With scarce opportunities for work in the pandemic, a freelance platform created by National Commercial Bank, NCB, is generating interest in and outside Jamaica.
The NCB Gig Network, which doubles as a job bank for short-term jobs with the banking group and a site for freelancers to market their skills to the world, has so far had 3,000 freelancers from multiple countries list their services on the platform.
The site mirrors popular online marketplace Fiverr and Upwork, and is the only one of its kind by a corporate company in Jamaica to recruit skills from among gig workers.
The gig economy is fuelled by project-based or freelance jobs work. The jobs are normally temporary, putting gig workers in vulnerable positions. In fact, when the pandemic hit, gig workers were among the first to fall victim to cost-cutting measures as companies adjusted to the economic fallout.
But while business was dwindling in some sectors, NCB General Manager of Group Human Resources and Facilities, Euton Cummings, said the bank saw an opportunity to respond to the changes in the market.
“The gig economy is now a worldwide phenomenon, It’s relatively new to Jamaica but it’s not new to the world. We have persons, who don’t necessarily want to be an employee, they want the flexibility of freelancing for different companies or they may be employed and want to use their skills to make additional income,” Cummings said.
NCB’s gig website was developed by a technical partner, which has since listed its service on the network.
Through access at freelance.jncb.com, a variety of service providers, including graphic designers, website developers, copywriters, project managers and quantity surveyors will be able to bid on projects posted there by NCB.
Additionally, the website allows for NCB to easily source entrepreneurs and small businesses with the skills and services needed to participate in projects across multiple disciplines.
NCB, alongside other companies looking to secure the talent for short-term jobs, now have the ability to choose freelancers from India, United States, United Kingdom and the Caribbean who have already listed on the platform since its launch in November.
“We have recognised that there is a space for gigs where people have defined units of work, and have defined start and end time. If we need someone to do coding for NCB, we don’t necessarily need a full-time employee; that’s the space that the gig is covering,” Cummings said.
He added that the NCB data analyst team has been watching to see what insights the bank can gain from the platform in its current form, which would guide any enhancements to the system.
An upgraded version of NCB’s Gig Network could come in the form of an app, which leverages user location data and skills matching to connect businesses with short-term labour needs to skilled, temporary workers.
The value of the local gig economy is yet to be determined. Data from the United States shows that demand for gig economy apps have increased by 25 per cent since the virus was declared a national emergency in that country in March.
The NCB Gig Network follows on the bank’s partnership with iCreate Institute, Northern Caribbean University and Internet Income Jamaica which provided displaced Jamaicans a chance to upskill themselves with short courses in over 25 subject areas, including digital marketing, social customer service, sales and marketing, voice acting and more.