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How The Gig Economy Is Reshaping Career Options For Soon-To-Be Graduates 

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Right now the workplace is undergoing the biggest changes within the past 200 years. Traditional 9-to-5 employment model is getting closer to becoming obsolete. More and more people are realizing that they don’t have to be pinned to a single place of work to earn a good living. So much so that within the next decade, 50% of U.S. workers will be freelancers. As a soon-to-be graduate, all those changes may sound exciting and perplexing at the same time. 

So what does the gig economy even mean for your future? Several good and perhaps not-so-great things. 

Prepare to look for work, not a job 

Today, a traditional full-time job with benefits package is no longer the prime model of employment. Temporary or contract work is the new norm. New graduates now need to accept the fact that no one may be offering them traditional employment the second they walk out of their alma mater. The majority will need to create their own employment opportunities. 

But it does not mean that there are fewer jobs out there? On the contrary, there are plenty of opportunities to pursue. However, those may no longer be packaged in the form of a “traditional job” – they may appear as gigs. As much as 40% of companies state that gig workers will become a major part of their workforce within several years. What’s even more important is that they are ready to offer top compensation to the skilled contractors. Already 40% of gig workers net over six-figures per year and the majority didn’t spend a decade climbing the career ladder to secure such paychecks. 

“Career growth in the gig economy can be orchestrated at a much faster pace than in a traditional work environment,” Andre Robles, CEO of Voyager Travel. “Plus, it gives you the flexibility to control your time and pursue other interests. You could travel the world and see some breathtaking natural and cultural destinations while still working and earning a decent income. So as a new grad, you have the opportunity to have a more streamlined upward career trajectory in the gig economy. That is as long as you hustle hard and consistently invest in improving your skill set.”

Work on a portfolio, not a résumé

Your parents may have told you that a good résumé with a bunch of internships at “big name companies” is the key to landing a good job straight out of college. Soon that may no longer be the case. Résumés are becoming less and less necessary, as most employees shift to online application processes, especially to hire contract and gig workers. 

Those application processes don’t generally rely on résumés. Instead, applicants are asked to submit some general personal data (name, age, location, availability, etc) and outline their skills and experience. Yet few employers hiring gig workers expect to see a long list of jobs with duties/responsibilities/accomplishments bulleted underneath. It’s quite the opposite: they want to immediately see what you can offer them as a hire – a quick preview of your work. That’s why today it’s far more important to focus on building a strong personal portfolio, showcasing everything that you can do, instead of a classical résumé. 

In fact, Matthew Guarini, vice president research director at Forrester, even goes as far as saying that, “Traditional résumés, as a whole, will eventually be useless. What will make résumés obsolete will be a combination of things like LinkedIn and gig-based marketplaces. This combination will digitize the necessary information and make it near real-time for better decision making.”

Take advantage of the emerging entrepreneurship programs in schools 

Few traditional higher educational institutions can fully prepare the soon-to-be graduates for the reality of work ahead of them. New jobs and skill sets are emerging faster than educators can upgrade the curriculums. However, some colleges are now taking a more proactive stance on the gig economy, especially those offering creative education. Since 2016, 16 universities in the U.S. launched arts-business incubators and 16 more schools started hosting funding competitions, business coaching and artist-in-residence programs.  

The University of Michigan and at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem are two leaders in this space. Both schools now offer courses in innovation and entrepreneurship. They are helping students launch new projects to support their future hustle such as develop websites that would allow dance instructors to share teaching tips and advice for cash. Additionally, they are also helping students develop core entrepreneurship competency – level up their skills in marketing, business planning and self-promotion. This way some students manage to graduate with a self-built work opportunity. 

Corporate employment is no longer the only route worth pursuing after college. With the increased demand for gig and contract workforce, you may secure yourself a better future by diving deep into the gig economy early on and succeeding at a pace faster than traditionally employed peers.

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Economy

The Music Dies for Poland’s Gig Economy Workers

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There was a time when the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) was seen as the champion of those relying on flexible forms of employment. Five years ago, when it came to power, it declared it would abolish “junk” contracts.

But critics say all PiS has done is to introduce a minimum hourly rate for casual workers to match minimum rates for employees on full contracts.

“It takes more time for the labour market to totally get out of these types of contracts,” said Wojciech Zubowski, PiS deputy chairman of the parliament’s economy and development committee. “Besides, for many people who don’t want to be associated with one company, this kind of employment is simply suitable.”

In recent years, Poland has seen economic growth and budget surpluses thanks in part to a buoyant global economic outlook and austerity reforms brought in by PiS’s predecessors. Poland’s unemployment rate hit a record low of 2.9 per cent in January. 

But critics say PiS has squandered the conditions it inherited. Instead of reforming the chaotic labour market, it has overseen a dramatic increase in social spending.

It introduced a “13th” and then a “14th” month of annual pension payments and one-off gifts of around 70 euros for school pupils. It also brought in an immensely popular subsidy of 110 euros a month for each child, regardless of a family’s income, which has cost taxpayers 18.5 billion euros since 2016.

Critics say PiS has also distributed money among loyalists in the public media, government agencies and bureaucracy — sectors that are key to the party’s grip on power — though PiS denies it.

“In times of prosperity, PiS has neither made serious investments nor savings,” said Katarzyna Lubnauer, a member of the Modern party, which along with Civic Platform, the main opposition party, forms the Civic Coalition alliance in parliament.

“So now there are relatively few funds that can be allocated to saving the economy.”

In times of prosperity, PiS has neither made serious investments nor savings. So now there are relatively few funds that can be allocated to saving the economy.

– Katarzyna Lubnauer, the Modern party

While Lubnauer faults PiS for not reorganising the labour market, she said for some workers it was a conscious choice to work on non-standard contracts, which offered them flexibility and exemption from paying social contributions.

But “what worked in times of prosperity becomes a burden in the crisis”, Lubnauer added.

Meanwhile, singer Marcin Januszkiewicz wonders if he will ever play a concert again as social distancing looks more and more like the new normal.

Whatever happens, though, he is trying to stay upbeat.

“The thought that we’re all together facing some unknown disaster rather builds me up,” he said.



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Help is on the way for Uber, Lyft drivers and other gig workers as economy sputters

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“That shift in the economy, we’re not going back, so I think hey, when we get through this people are going to be renting out rooms again and sharing their vehicles and participating in opportunities. So I don’t think there’s any necessarily turning back on the gig economy, I think it was such a shock to the system of many folks that were participating in it that saw this as their full time job. And there really isn’t a nice safety net, although some of the programs may be addressing and supporting them,” Goldberg said.

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Collaborations helping gig economy survive COVID-19

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Multiple partnerships between local governments and private businesses in the gig economy space are playing an important role in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, a report by the Ola Mobility Institute (OMI), ‘Leveraging and Protecting the Gig Economy against COVID-19 has said. 

The report says such collaborations between governments and businesses has resulted in the government recognising the potential of gig workers in this crisis, by two non-fiscal strategies, i.e. by actively involving the technological capability of the platforms and their logistical networks (hands-on approach), and passively facilitating their operations through legal protection (hands-off approach). The agility of businesses implies fewer challenges to staffing their gig workforce, while also providing remunerative opportunities to gig workers, it said. 

In India, this collaboration has been seen as platforms such as Flipkart, Uber and Big Basket are partnering with each other in multiple cities to provide delivery of essentials.  

It calls for a collective effort to strengthen social partnership with platform companies to fast-track the recovery process from the COVID-19 crisis. Gig workers and platforms must be leveraged to better manage the crisis, fast-track recovery.

It also discusses steps to protect gig workers that have been taken by the new-age platforms and the governments. New businesses are strengthening safety measures, adapting to the new work environment, providing health access to all, expanding paid leave, and taking steps to secure the livelihoods of players in the gig economy. It also says that governments across the world have also announced multiple policy measures to minimise the human and economic impact of COVID-19, and particularly protect the gig workers.

Speaking on the report, Carson Dalton, Senior Director, Ola Mobility Institute said, “COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis of our time. Under these extraordinary circumstances, gig workers and platform companies are adapting quickly and leveraging their workforce to ensure transportation services, delivery of essential commodities and medicines are available to the most vulnerable populations.” 

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