By Gabriela Ruseva (ALL DIGITAL)
What would you think if someone told you that you can work and still earn money without going to work everyday? At first, it might sound like an utopian dream for those who are seeking more flexible working hours, but nowadays it is actually possible!
Crowd-working is what identifies this new form of employment. Although the term is rather new, the idea behind it is not. It dates back to the 18th century when the British government approached the public in order to solve a problem: they needed to find a way to measure a ship’s longitude and so they offered money for the best solution from the crowd. And unsurprisingly, this was an easy way to raise public interest.
As defined by a recent 2017 EESC report on the new forms of work, across Europe, due to societal, economic and technological developments and more specifically to the “availability of very high-capacity broadband networks, the future of work will see a growing number of atypical work forms, such as (multiple) part-time work, work with multiple contractors and so-called ‘crowdworking’ with workers offering their skills on internet platforms as a network of highly qualified and specialised professionals”.
In the new crowd-working world, it is unimportant where tasks and work are conducted. For this reason crowd-workers are also referred to as ‘digital nomads’. In this perspective, technology is the essential work tool as workers’ tasks are mostly carried out online and the web is also where clients and workers meet. Therefore, digital skills are becoming increasingly required in order to match societal needs and the demands of the labour market, as only those with up-to-date skills stand a good chance of finding decent and fairly remunerated jobs.
Lifelong learning, particularly related to digital skills, will be a necessity for everyone. As the EECS report underlines, “beyond formal education, much more time will have to be devoted to professional training and informal learning, which should be supported as much as possible by an EU-wide harmonised system of certificates and standards”. Standards and certificates would be crucial for making these learning achievements measurable and comparable.
It should also be considered that this kind of self-employment entails considerable risks. The crowd-working lacks an appropriate security system. So, if on the one hand flexibility and freedom is attractive for most people, on the other hand it can lead to economic uncertainty for the future. A growing number of such ‘digital nomads’ are threatened by poverty when getting old.
Although many have been the potential benefits of this new way of working, at the same time concerns have been raised about 1) a desirable security system and 2) the need of an appropriate system of certificates and standards for the so-called informal learning. The first is a matter for social dialogue at European and national level. Decisions need to be made to ensure that our social protection systems and our working requirements and conditions are sustainable. Meanwhile, different stakeholders, including the pathways4employ consortium, is working on the second. Self-assessement tests are one way of assessing the skills acquired through non-formal and informal learning which is increasingly gaining popularity. Online self-assessment is easy to access, and the results can be displayed on different online platforms. They help people to quickly and easily identify the skills they have, and those they need to improve.
Furthermore, the pathways4employ assessment tools are aligned with the DigComp, the European Framework for Digital Skills.