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Here's How Google and Samaschool Are Helping Workers Prepare for the Gig Economy
Brought to you by WBR Insights
The gig economy (as contingent staffing is often referred) has grown from being a tiny minority of employment options to a massive, globe-spanning phenomenon.
In the UK alone, there are an estimated 1,550,000 people in some form of temporary employment, whether in fixed-price contract, agency temping, seasonal work, casual work, or other. In the US, the number is 48 million and accounts for a massive 31 percent of the workforce. Like it or not, it seems like the world of contingent staffing may be the future of the workforce. And, with US unemployment at its lowest in nearly 50 years, companies are finding they need to rely on contingent staff on an increasingly regular basis.
Google is a company which relies heavily on a contingent workforce, so it's investing in preparing people for life in this new employment paradigm.
Preparing for the Future of Work
Originally launched in 2017, Google's initiative devoted $50 million in funding which would only be available to not-for-profit organizations which are working to develop the skills and knowledge that people need in the modern arena of work.
"Many research organizations, non-profits, and businesses have already started exploring the ways work will continue to change over time, whether through the rise of the gig economy, new technological advances, or demographic changes," said Google. "We'll be directing $2 million to fund research on the future of work - finding ways to better anticipate and understand what the world's fast-changing workforce will need in the years to come and how technology can help produce positive outcomes. We'll share our learnings from research and collaboration with a growing network of experts from Google, Alphabet, and beyond."
Perhaps the most important thing Google can do to support the gig economy would be to commit money and infrastructure to the National Domestic Workers Alliance. The organization is listed as a beneficiary on the Google.org website and works to help contingent staff with issues which may arise from their comparable lack of employment rights.
The NDWA is not the only organization carrying out this kind of work, and it's hoped that Google's initiative will reach more of these sorts of non-profits. One of the biggest concerns around the gig economy is the employment rights (or lack thereof) of those working in it, so any support in this regard, especially from a giant such as Google, is likely to be welcomed.
The latest development in the initiative has taken the form of a $1 million grant to Samaschool.
The non-profit is an advocate of the gig economy and has a mission to equip jobseekers for independent work. Samaschool believes the gig economy can help people get into work quicker and has fewer barriers to entry than permanent employment - making it a particularly attractive prospect for those presently unemployed.
"Research suggests that 94% of all net jobs from 2005-2015 occurred in independent work," said a Samaschool representative. "While this represents a tremendous opportunity, we also recognize that shift can present challenges for American workers and the workforce system. Thanks to Google.org's support, we'll be taking a more active role in advocating for independent workers and helping people benefit from independent work while mitigating its risks. We're using a data-driven approach to this work by quantifying independent worker motivations, needs, and supports. Our findings will inform the strategies we recommend, which we plan to bring to policy-makers, think tanks, and workforce funders."
Samaschool achieves this by partnering with workforce development organizations, community colleges, and government workforce systems in order to develop outreach and training programs, which will help people reap the benefits of contingent work - while simultaneously avoiding some of its pitfalls. Independent workers can often feel isolated, especially when things go wrong, so to have Google and Samaschool in their corner could be a massive boost.
It doesn't seem like the gig economy is going anywhere anytime soon. Therefore, it's beneficial for people to find new ways of preparing for independent work. Having the backing of industry giants such as Google can only help.
"The way we work is changing," said Google. "As new technologies continue to unfold in the workplace, more than a third of jobs are likely to require skills that are uncommon in today's workforce. Workers are increasingly working independently. Demographic changes and shifts in labor participation in developed countries will mean future generations will find new ways to sustain economic growth. These changes create opportunities to think about how work can continue to be a source of not just income, but purpose and meaning for individuals and communities."
You can hear Google's Manager of VMS Operations, Bradley Pierson, speak at Contingent Staffing 2019, taking place in July at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, MN.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.