The ongoing debate over the definition of the odd-job economy and its legal implications has eclipsed the exploration and study of fundamental transformations in labor behavior in Latin America and around the world.
It is essential that in order to continue the debate on the economy of odd jobs, we first define the term.
The conversation swings between simple definitions and complex and evolving labor law frameworks. A academic article 2020 offers a basic definition of the odd-job economy, describing it as “paid tasks performed by independent contractors mediated by platforms”.
BBVA, the largest financial institution in Mexico, pushes the definition further to include all types of tasks performed for a limited and concrete period and without an exclusive relationship with an employer. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum and the UK government Define it as “the exchange of labor for money between individuals or businesses via digital platforms that actively facilitate matching between suppliers and customers, on a short-term payment basis and by task “. In short, and in the context of the Mexican and Latin American business landscape, Rappi, Uber, Cornershop, Didi, 99minutos and Zubale are all part of the concert economy.
But more importantly, each of these platforms the partners (i.e. drivers, couriers, delivery men and women, etc.) are part of the odd-job economy. Today, one in five workers in Mexico is part of the odd-job economy. And that number is expected to increase. This represents one of the biggest transformations in the work landscape over the past decade, if not the most significant.
The World Economic Forum and the UK government define the odd-job economy as’ the exchange of labor for money between individuals or businesses through digital platforms that actively facilitate matching between individuals and businesses. suppliers and customers, on a short-term, per-task payment basis ”.
These unstudied social changes influence most major aspects of consumer behavior, including the availability of cash flow and cash spending, data consumption and technology literacy, and the transfer of information and knowledge. . We want to focus on the latter. We would say that, unintentionally, the digital gig economy and non-digital independent platforms have laid the groundwork for the formation of vibrant learning communities, providing solid development and retraining opportunities for partners, which is otherwise. inaccessible. In other words, the partners in the odd-job economy acquire a substantial amount of empirical knowledge through their professional experience. It is extremely important to start recognizing and therefore measuring the improvement in the professional skills of these workers.
To shed light on this subject, we are talking about two categories of skills: sectoral technical skills and transversal (or transferable) skills.
Industry specific skills
Industry or job specific skills are defined such as the abilities that enable a candidate for a job to excel at a particular job. For example, all the skills a teacher needs to do a great teaching job, such as lesson planning. However, it has always been implied that you need formal education and a long-term job to develop these skills. For partners in the concert economy, and due to the nature of short-lived concerts, this process is less linear and less tangible.
Uber drivers are a prime example. Rather than just describing an everyday driver, Uber has crafted a narrative that professionalizes driving. On its website, Uber goes so far as to describe this concert as “an alternative to traditional driving works.“ And while it doesn’t define a specific skill set for drivers, it pushes drivers through a multi-level development process through online courses, in-app gamification, incentives and, most importantly, user-based ratings.
But we’re more interested in the end result: a consistent and “good” driver can expect to better recognize and engage with the country’s driving rules; understand, design and implement health protocols; smartphone technology and management; mapping skills; administration of cash and deposits; empathy and customer service; good communication skills; and of course, driving skills.
The simple increase in these skills completely transforms the worker, without ever going through a “formal process of schooling”. We spoke with drivers who really had no experience with smartphones and can now use 10 different apps at the same time.
In addition, the constant acquisition of skills, such as city mapping, customer service and consistency in passenger delivery pushes drivers to other services, such as Uber Eats, Uber Delivery / Flash, Uber Black and other more exclusive carpooling models that generate other sources of income. These professionalization skills are fundamental either to generate an income stream that can compensate for the lack of formal employment opportunity, or to push drivers towards a formal employment opportunity, in which drivers can take advantage of their skills. newly acquired experience and empirical knowledge to continue growth.
Gig economy skills
The reality of the concert economy the partners, however, is much more complex. We cannot say what the supply of labor looks like in the same industry (i.e. how many formal driver positions are available compared to the supply of highly skilled Uber drivers) or the intrinsic motivations of the drivers.
In fact, most drivers will not become formal drivers. Therefore, we must try to understand that most of these newly the knowledge acquired will be transferable. Transferable skills are defined as, “Skills or talents that can be used in different jobs, career paths and industries”.
At Rappi, couriers develop a significant amount of transferable skills that will become fundamental for their professional growth, such as customer service, schedule management and mastery of technology.
We would say that unintentionally, the digital gig economy and non-digital independent platforms have laid the groundwork for the formation of vibrant learning communities, providing solid development and retraining opportunities for partners, which is otherwise unattainable.
Other skills are also learned, such as debt and cash flow management, among others. It is definitely worth pointing out this skill. Deuda (debt) is a negative balance on the Rappitendero account (Rappi’s name for his couriers). It comes from different places, like cash payments, canceled orders after picking up products, and pseudo micro credits to give customers change. Rappitenderos must be extremely agile in managing and matching their cash flow against electronic payment balances. Failure to do so can seriously hamper their availability of cash when collecting their winnings.
But that’s just one layer for that, the concept of deuda itself depends on a combination of the courier’s historical debt management, background as a courier, the speed of depositing cash purchases at Rappi, and skill increase, which we believe are user rating factors. In other words, couriers can increase your potential deuda balance and thus receive more complex and cash transactions if and only if they build a good debt history.
This is really just a superficial glimpse into the complexity behind debt administration, and debt administration is just one of the implications these platforms and algorithms have for their partners. Each of these implications push partners to engage in learning communities, involving organic transfers of knowledge from their peers, the platform itself, clients and their reviews, and most importantly, the experience itself – the constant iteration of these processes until the development of a series of hard-shell skills. However, a nuance of this reality is that the validation of the competency itself is attached to the scoring and algorithm of the platform.
We haven’t heard from people applying for new jobs using their Rappi rating.
Few people know about these skills and they have little transactional value in the face of new opportunities for professional growth outside of every community or gig economy application. We haven’t heard from people applying for new jobs using their Rappi rating; people already have enough difficulty communicating their employable skills, let alone when they are not transferable.
The heart of the gig economy is to provide both revenue and added value to their users and partners. However, most of the added values, in particular the acquisition of skills and learning, are not valid for professional growth. It is essential that the gig economy platforms not only provide this knowledge, whether empirical or taught through lessons, but also provide a means of consistent validation over time. Only then will the odd-job economy be closer to fulfilling its role as the new cornerstone of generating income and value for the workforce.