Creating own employment in ‘gig economy’ – sundaymail.co.zw

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The Sunday Mail

Allen Mukwenha

UNEMPLOYMENT among our youths remains a challenge.

Government is often blamed for not doing enough to address youth unemployment.

However, it is also incumbent upon each one of us as citizens to take advantage of the economic opportunities that are out there.

We are past the time of delegating responsibility for our lives to others.

One of the many ways youths can create their own employment is by participating in the “Gig Economy”.

The Gig Economy is described as a labour market characterised by outsourcing work and temporary employment using technology platforms and apps.

It is a substitute for standard, full-time employment.

Gig workers are freelancers or contractors who alternate between jobs on a project-to-project basis.

They may have just one gig at once or many gigs at the same time.

The gig economy started gaining traction about a decade ago.

It is expected to continue growing in the coming years as more people join the bandwagon.

Gig opportunities are available across all sectors including in the entertainment, transportation, sales, marketing and art sectors.

Gig work is appealing because individuals get to choose their gigs without being tied to one employer.

They can essentially do a lot of things on their own time without being constrained by a 9-5 job with fixed office hours.

The gig economy is helping businesses cut down overhead costs since independent contractors are not required to have full benefits or paid leave time, which can be considered expensive in comparison with hiring freelancers.

This results in savings of up to 30 percent in human resource costs for companies that hire freelancers.

There are three common types of gig websites:

 those that provide freelance work opportunities;

those that give listings for gigs from others looking to hire;

and those that team up with both employers and freelancers.

Freelance websites offer a wide range of jobs, from short-term gigs to full-time positions. The best part about freelancing is that individuals have more control over their lives as they can do what they want when they want to. Gig listing sites allow employers to post what they need from freelancers.

These might include writing, graphic design, multimedia projects or programming. The best part about listing sites is that employers have the advantage of being able to choose from a pool of freelancers who are ready and willing to do whatever project they have in mind.

The best part about these websites is that they allow freelancers and employers to link with each other on their own terms.

There is no need to go through an intermediary anymore. An example of a freelance site is Upwork (www.upwork.com).

They offer an extensive range of jobs, from short-term and full-time positions to hourly projects.  For someone who has just graduated college with no job prospects, Upwork allows them the flexibility to be able to work when they want and do what they love so they can earn whilst gaining experience. Another example of a gig website is Fiverr (www.fiverr.com), which offers gigs in many different areas.

Generally, people must have some experience before they are allowed to post their own gigs on this website, but it does provide opportunities for beginners.

Freelancer (www.freelancer.com) is another website that offers freelancing work.

Employers post their needs or requests from freelancers. Freelancers are then able to bid on these requests. For instance, an employer may want someone who can write well and wants to know the price they would charge per 500 words.

The freelancer could then provide a bidding price for this project.

A winning bid is then chosen based on price, experience and other factors.

It is convenient because employers have access to qualified applicants without having to go through an intermediary like a recruitment company or job board site. The best part is that freelancers can freely choose which projects they want to bid on.

No matter what your skill set or professional experience, you can find a site that will allow you to get in on the action.

Whether you want to pick up some extra cash doing freelance writing, design work, editing, programming/coding/web development, finance and accounting, sales and marketing, research, data entry/research, administrative support, or have a specialised skill set in healthcare, legal, engineering and architecture, public relations/communications/media/journalism, or education—there is likely a site that will allow you to find gigs.

To appreciate the great opportunity this is, consider that the website Upwork has 50 million members, 11 million jobs posted at any given time, and 3 million jobs annually with an average hourly rate of $19.

On one website, there are 5 million more jobs daily than the total number of Zimbabweans aged 15 to 64!

If one worked 5-hour days for 5 days per week, they could potentially earn US$1 900 per week!

The ability to communicate well is one of the most important criteria that employers consider when selecting freelancers. This is why most highly paid freelancers are native English speakers.

However, freelancers from countries where English is a second language like the Philippines and South Africa are also doing well because they are perceived as good communicators.

Zimbabweans have a deserved global reputation for being educated and well spoken. We are therefore equipped to compete favourably against other countries.Many companies especially locally, still prefer hiring full-time employees.

However, the internet has opened opportunities for people to work for any employer, anywhere on the globe.

The standard process of applying for jobs and undergoing interviews is no longer the norm.

The way we work is being revolutionised. Our youths need to abandon the prevalent negative and defeatist attitudes and take up the challenge to create their own employment. One can start with no experience, and no capital. All that one needs is an internet connection, a positive mindset, and determination to succeed!

Allen Mukwenha is an entrepreneur and managing director of Peloton, a business strategy and consulting firm.

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