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How Should Universities Prepare Students for the Gig Economy?

Posted by Shafa Rasyidah on Jul 14, 2022 11:10:32 AM

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Did you know? 

  • Giggers or freelancers earn $28 per hour on average for performing skilled services
  • Gigging is expected to grow by 14 percent over the next 6 years
  • There are an estimated 1.2 billion gig workers worldwide. That’s more than 34% of the global workforce!
  • A large number of major international companies are turning to gig platforms for project-based work and longer-term contracts
  • Small businesses stand to benefit the most from the low overhead that gig work provides. Half of small businesses have used a gigger in the last 3 months, and 81% intend to do so again or at some point in the future
  • Demand for giggers increased during the global COVID-19 pandemic, as traditional offices closed and full-time employees were furloughed

(Source: zippia.com)

The data presented above show that students must prepare for their current and future lives as self-employed and independent workers. The increasingly advanced digital era is causing intense competition in the job search. Even at the internship or apprenticeship level, the competition is fierce. Universities can take important steps to better prepare their students for the future of work that they will enter when they graduate:


1. Teach the Fundamentals of Working Independently

As higher education adapts to the future of work, learning about the arts of thriving in the gig economy is required to help students understand the good, bad, and future of the work. This will equip students to make the right decisions about taking up gigs. Many of the skills needed to become a successful gigger or even entrepreneur can be taught, such as:

✅ How to form a business entity

✅ Managing a small office

✅ Setting up pricing

✅ Negotiating with clients 

✅ Developing marketing & branding strategies

These fundamental skills can be reframed to prepare students who are self-employed or entrepreneurs to build a portfolio of gigs.


2. Expand Career Services to Provide Flexi Gigs

Career services at the university, which initially focused on matching students to full-time jobs, must begin to change to reflect the importance of independent work in the gig economy. For example, as a gig platform, Qwork and our Higher Education Partners such as International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), and others are collaborating to create engagement sessions for students to become acquainted with the gig economy. These are dedicated platforms and apps that assist students in finding short-term projects, assignments, and gigs. You could also form a collaboration with Qwork to expand your career services. Students' levels of self-motivation and confidence for gig economy work can be explored by institutions. As a result, students learn how to determine which gig jobs are best for them and how to compete in the global marketplace of the gig economy.


3. Encourage Students to Learn Practical Skills Through Gigs

Universities must conduct research and observe the world of work into which students must be prepared. Given that change is unavoidable, universities must adapt in the process of imparting knowledge to students so that students can easily adapt to changes in the workplace. Case studies, such as your organisation’s business models and practices, can be used to learn how employers are changing the jobs and workforce. Aside from that, many full-time professors supplement their income with side jobs such as consulting, advisory work, paid research, board positions, and speaking engagements. This, however, does not apply to students; far too many have graduated with transcripts rather than portfolios. According to university lecturers, many students should be educated to study while working part-time. It can assist students in better time management.


4. Online Learning

Universities must balance the need for students to be on campus with the ability to earn course credit or degrees. Online distance courses and programs that allow students to study when and where they want are one of the services that colleges can provide in this digital age. It has the potential to promote control and flexibility in remote self-employment growth, and it should be reflected in the opportunities that career services provide for students and in the campus recruitment that are provided to graduates.


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Written by: Shafa Rasyidah


Topics: gigwork, Giggers, NavigatingTheGigEconomy, freelance, internship, employers, interns, apprenticeship, early career