Vanessa, a single mother raising two teenagers, is in a comfortable space. She is playing the role of a mother and breadwinner to the hilt, thanks to the changing dynamics of the workplace that allowed her to pick up the threads to weave a stronger nest for her children and herself.
She lost her job after the birth of her second child and as expected mounting financial worries gave her sleepless nights. Instead of fretting over how to pay the bills, she started looking around for work from home options. To her surprise, she got multiple opportunities offering a wide variety of jobs to monetize her professional skills and her hobbies too.
Today, she is juggling many roles – as a mother, an accountant, a community driver, and an artist–and she is laughing all the way to the bank.
There was a time, in fact till recently, jobs requiring single skills, stability, and longevity were the most sought after. Not anymore. The tide has turned and now it’s the opposite – there is plenty of scope for Jack of all trade in this new system. Blame it on the technological revolution.
Short-term contracts, project-based engagements, temporary arrangements, freelancing, and non-traditional flexible hiring culture are the salient features of this new workspace called the gig economy, which, according to the experts, will shape the future. This trend had bailed Vanessa out of her financial crunch.
Similarly, COVID-19 devastated the world, but the crisis changed the workplace ecosystem. It turned the gig economy into the flood plains, providing a fertile workplace for enterprising skilled individuals, fluent in marketing their skills, with the ability to tune in their expertise with the demands of the clients.
The gig workers turned the tide and they are harvesting fortune by expertly managing time.
This non-traditional work culture may have come into the limelight in the aftermath of COVID-19, but it has been there for a longer time. According to a McKinsey report, up to 162 million people in Europe and the United States— or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work.
What is a Gig?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a gig as a job, usually for a specified time. This description fits the bill.
What is a Gig Economy?
A way of working that is based on people having temporary jobs or doing separate pieces of work, each paid separately, rather than working for an employer – Cambridge Dictionary.
Both Merriam Webster and Cambridge Dictionary aptly describe gig and gig economy, respectively.
What is a Gig Worker?
The growth of the gig economy can be gauged from the fact that the list of 520 new words that Merriam Webster added in January 2021 included gig workers. According to them, a person who works temporary jobs, typically in the service sector as an independent contractor or freelancer, is a gig worker.
The gig economy has been there for much longer than we think, there are no two ways about it.
And the success of several organizations testifies it further. In fact, it was so prevalent that the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on it in 2017, which stated that the US had 55 million people as gig workers.
Some top gig economy companies reinstate its existence for a longer period than we assume.
Care.com: An organization that created job opportunities for all certified caregivers and home service providers was co-founded by Sheila Lirio Marcelo and Dave Krupinski in 2006. The company has its headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Airbnb: This San Francisco-based company was floated by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk in 2008 and it provides the homeowners an opportunity to monetize their property.
Uber: A ride-hailing company, Uber revolutionized the commuting culture. Its co-founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp launched it in 2009, and it has since become a boon for licensed drivers across the world. The company has its headquarters in San Francisco.
Cabify: Juan de Antonio started this ridesharing company in 2011 in Madrid and created opportunities for licensed drivers with a vehicle to make money.
Etsy: Etsy, an American eCommerce website, was started by four friends – Rob Kalin, Jared Tarbell, Chris Maguire, and Haim Schoppik – for handmade or vintage items and craft supplies. It has been around since 2005. The Brooklyn-based online platform provides opportunities to the community of sellers to turn their ideas into successful businesses.
Fiverr: This is an Israeli online marketplace for freelance services. Started by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger in 2010 in Tel Aviv, the company has grown manifold in the last two decades.
This shows that change is inevitable. Hence, it should be embraced by filtering the changes, analyzing its characteristics and groom yourself accordingly.
Here, the parents have to ask if they are preparing their children for the future.
Parents have to strategize and tap the changes to shape the future of their children. A necessary step is to find ways to combine the traditional degree with modern learning for a better tomorrow.
For the gig economy, children have to be groomed to be excellent multi-taskers because expertise in one skill may not be enough for survival. In the gig economy, a jack of all trades will be the survivor.
Hence, acquiring a broader range of hard and soft-skills has become important. Parents and educational entities are realizing the need for preparing children for such a future. However, this form of non-traditional approach is not widely popular.
Only a few programs such as Moonshot Junior’s Innovator Program are paving the way with the emphasis on developing skills that will become handy in future economies and the gig culture, especially an entrepreneurial mindset.
Another important skill is creative thinking and problem-solving. As they say, it is not rocket science. Parents can easily inculcate these skills in children by indulging them in outcome-based creative work and encouraging them to achieve the set target while removing the obstacles.
And the best way to acquire any skill is to learn and to get hands-on practice.