Gig Economy: Growing Significance of Skill-based Education

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The rise of use of technological devices like that of cell phones has contributed in bringing about an explosion in the generation of gig services around the world. The consumption of gig services has also been fuelled by the rapid development and use of diverse technological applications. Companies offering gig services gained an easy expansion owing to their ability in offering consumers potential services that are both easily accessible and also cheaper compared to that provided by traditional firms. Services offered in by the gig companies are cheaper owing to the absence of overhead costs and other fixed costs like the costs incurred regards to real estate, insurance costs, procurement and installation of equipments and infrastructures, generation of employee benefits and rewards and also expenses incurred in terms of rendering salaries to full-time employees.

The growth of the gig economy in such a rapid scale requires the need for an optimal level of skilled workforce that can help in satiating the needs of consumers requiring specialised services. The article thus focuses on understanding in how the gig economy is impacting skill based education in the development of quality labour.

What is skill-based education?
Skill-based education is identified to be a specific vocational skill that is earned based on the development of short-term training courses and based on which an individual gets opportunities to work in informal job sectors. The short-term training programs are essentially external to that of the formal education system. Skill-based educational programs in India are essentially developed under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY) scheme. The PMKVY Scheme contributes in promoting both recognition and as well as standardisation of the different skill sets.

Importance of skill-based learning
The significance of skill-based learning can be understood from the following aspects:

In skill-based learning the ownership of studying lies in the hands of the learners. The assessments in skill-based learning are mainly conducted in evaluating the competency of the candidates and not for generating grades. Further, student engagement is promoted based on the designing of different hands-on projects that also helps in enhancing the level of understanding required.

Acquiring of Experience
The involvement of the candidates in real-time projects contributes in enhancing the level of experiences of the participants in skill-based learning programs. The skill-based learning programs thus focus on generating tangible experiences rather than promoting grade based education.

Purpose-Driven Education
The culture of skill-based education programs is essentially purpose-driven in nature. The purpose of skill-based learning is to provide an effective foundation for the students to hone their skills and abilities coupled with developing needed knowledge such that the same empowers them to operate effectively in challenging environments.

The above stated advantages of skill based education over traditional or formal learning programs contribute in the development of skilled and trained workforce needed for bringing about social, technological and economic development in a holistic manner.

What is a gig economy?
Gig Economy is identified as a pattern of work engagement where there is a consumer or service speaker, in one hand, reflecting demand for a particular task while on the other end is a gig worker that can work and deliver the needed task within a specified period. The development of the tech-enabled platforms contributes in connecting the consumer to the gig worker wherein the former can hire services from the latter based on a fixed period. The gig workers include people pertaining to different categories like self employed, freelancers, part-time workers and also independent contributors.

The gig economy is essentially accounted to be project-based in nature and encourages the service adopter in cutting down overhead costs. The gig workers earn payments regarding their performances for specific task sets rather than focusing on earning of fixed salary. Gig economy is identified as a complete shift from a 9 AM to 5 PM job environment to an on-demand, freelance and also task-based economy.

Offerings made by the Gig Economy
The gig economy offers some salient benefits to the people that desire to quit the traditional or formal working sphere owing too varied reasons like falling prey to workplace toxicity, suffering from career burnout and also in needing to work in an autonomous manner. The diverse types of offerings made by the gig economy to the people interested in working as gig workers are enumerated as follows:

Ability in building a portfolio
The gig workers earn the ability in building an effective portfolio of potential clients or employers from where they can draw works during different times of the year. This reduces the need of the people for depending on single employers and thereby eliminates employment risks associated with the same.

Increased work-life flexibilities and unlimited earning growth
The gig workers especially the freelancers earn the opportunity to work from anywhere based on their convenience. Thus, people can easily go on vacations and work for specific hours for meeting their financial needs and also in accomplishing the work. Moreover, working as a gig worker helps employees in earning in an unlimited manner and thereby not getting restricted to pay scale configurations.

Work Diversity
The ability in being able to build an effective portfolio of different clients helps the gig workers in getting their hands working in diverse types of projects. The same happens to reduce the level of boringness involved in that the workers get to face newer challenges to work on.

Mimicking Entrepreneurship
The workers involved in a gig economy tend to enjoy entrepreneurial opportunities. They do not require in designing websites for promoting their skills, experience and caliber rather they become able in earning the opportunities for being associated with different gig platforms. These platforms help the gig workers in getting access to different clients that are seeking independent people for getting the jobs done. This thereby helps in saving both time and cost regards to procurement and installation of needed resources for pursuing the entrepreneurial venture.

Serving as an outlet for gaining personal growth
The gig economy also offers to individuals the right type of platform for unleashing their skills for the fulfillment of their work-based passions which otherwise is not possible while working as a formal employee. In addition to providing an opportunity to people for optimal utilization of skill sets it also helps them in acting as an effective source of additional income.

Factors contributing students’ participation in gig economy
The gig economy accounts to be an effective mode through which the students not only gains relevant and real-time experience but also becomes able in earning money. The employers focusing on recruiting students for their companies mostly seek experienced candidates to fit in the different job roles. Thus, a student having gained needed experience as a gig worker accounts to be quite lucrative to an employer than that of a novel candidate having no work experience. Real-life experience is gained by students working in a gig economy in terms of short-duration contractual jobs, project-based works and also other types of freelancing activities.

Students also feel motivated in participating in gig economy in that the real-time projects they tend to work on are offered in by international companies both branded and non-branded. Project based tasks are mainly assigned to the students to work on by leading players like Uber, AirBnB and Deliveroo amongst others that thereby help the students in gaining a work exposure in serving international clientele.

Further, in that the gig economy operates in a flexible mode thus it helps the students reap the benefits in terms of allocating time for pursuing both their studies and also in getting working for clients for meeting their monetary needs. Students working in a gig economy thus earn the benefit in working on the tasks from the convenience of their homes and also in their free time. This thus helps in meeting the objectives of the academic programs and also in honing their skill-sets for future endeavours.

Gig Economy and Management Education
This section essentially divulges to understand the manner in how the gig economy is impacting skill based education. It focuses on reflecting both a generalist and case based approach for evaluating on the same.

The B-Schools are eyeing a rapid change in the work sphere owing to a current statistic rendered by McKinsey’s Global Institute which states that around 20 to 30 percent of the working population are involved in independent activities. The current trend in the job market is observed to counter a shift from full-time employment to alternative or non-traditional types of work arrangements. Moreover, the emerging and the young companies are currently observed in generating more number of employments to people, who possess certain essential skills, that will help in serving their clientele. A survey generated by McKinsey reflected that the independent workers tend to be increasingly satiated with their working lives than that of the full-time employees.

The Case of Globsyn Business School (GBS)
Globsyn Business School (GBS) based in Kolkata operates as the country’s only Corporate B-School. The Research Cell in Globsyn has developed the Student Development Program (SDP) as an offering to the students pertaining to the 2021-23 Batch. Along with Management and Foreign Language Courses (FLC) the SDP also offers different Vocational Courses for enhancing the knowledge, skills and abilities of the students so that they can gain access to greater employment opportunities.

The study carried out in the article ideally reflects on the growing importance of the gig economy in the current world. It also highlights the need for bringing about and development of skill-based training such that the same contributes in driving greater employment opportunities for people around the globe. Finally, both a generalist and case study based approach is undertaken in understanding the manner in how the gig economy is impacting skill based education. The incorporation of different types of short-term Vocational Training Courses effectively contributes in enhancing the skills base of the participants such that the same helps in boosting their employability quotient in the long run.