There is much buzz these days about the emerging “gig economy.” That refers to the kind of jobs that people take on in their spare time, or as a supplement to their regular jobs – although some people are employed full time in gig economy work.
Gig economy jobs are characterized by being temporary, handled by freelancers and those who don’t like the idea of holding down a traditional 9 to 5 job where they have to be physically present in a cubical Monday through Friday.
Examples of a gig economy job might be driving for Uber or earning some extra cash by renting a room in your home via Airbnb. But millions of gig jobs are accessed online. For example, a freelance writer can accept one-off assignments writing SEO articles or authoring longer manuscripts or technical documents for a variety of clients.
International businessman and founder of QI Group, VJ Eswaran is keenly interested in the implications of the gig economy. He points out that the gig economy is especially attractive to millennials. That’s critically important because millennials are expected to comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025.
Speaking recently at the World Economic Forum, VJ Eswaran reminds his fellow business owners that half of the jobs available today will become obsolete in just a few short years thanks to AI and automation. It’s already happening at a rapid rate, Mr. Eswaran said.
VJ Eswaran said that both governments and private businesses must be deeply concerned about the consequences of giving over millions of jobs to machines while real people find themselves adrift in the Brave New World of automation.
But he believes at least part of the answer is the gig economy. VJ Eswaran said people need work — and not just to earn money. They need something to shape their lives and give them focus and meaning every day. Working gig jobs can do that – but challenges remain. For example, gig jobs still don’t pay as well as traditional jobs or provide benefits like health insurance and retirement plans.
These are the kinds of issues business leaders must confront with a sense of urgency, VJ Eswaran said.