The world of work is constantly changing — whether it’s the way people are relating their skills against the labour market; or how business is relating their specific skills demands to the labour market.

In the past few years, there has been a rise in what has been termed as the ‘gig economy’; a more formalized and broader way of speaking about the traditional ‘piece job’. So what exactly does it entail and how can young South Africans take advantage of this phenomenon?

What is the gig economy?
The gig economy is mostly made up of freelance, flexible, on-demand work that is short term or project-based, and not the traditional nine-to-five job. Think Uber or Taxify driver — you do not have to work in a traditional office, and you can decide on your working hours or how much you want to make from it.

According to economist Xhanti Payi: “what is more important, in this day-and-age is having work and showing an employer that you have been working. It can be a series of short-term jobs but having work as part of your resume speaks louder than waiting to get employed by someone full time.”

With youth unemployment sitting at a staggering 38%, the dire need to find work and to be marketable in this economy comes at all costs. Participating in the gig economy provides an opportunity for many to be able to upskill and be more flexible whilst waiting for a certain job. Unlike a traditional job, giggers (people working in the gig economy) can hold various jobs at the same time that will allow them to earn an income.

How can you participate in the gig economy?
This can range from finding work online to working in your immediate community; anything from cutting grass, tutoring school kids; to a number of entrepreneurial opportunities. Start this by tapping into your networks; this shows prospective employers that you are not only a self-starter; but that you are able to create multiple opportunities and incomes for yourself. As companies are reducing their scales and not hiring for permanent positions, they are on the lookout for giggers to work on certain projects. Effectively knowing how to tap into your network to find various forms of work, whilst upskilling through different programmes available is important. You can tap into your networks by using social media effectively, read our article on top social media tips to landing a job.

How can you be the best gigger in town?
Digital skills are highly sought after by a lot of companies, especially SMMEs that are wanting to migrate to digital. You can market yourself and take various gigs through this, but first, be competent! You can take free online courses using Google’s Learn Digital platforms such as Digital Marketing to upskill.

P.S: Unlike traditional employment, giggers are not afforded the same benefits as those that have full-time employment such as medical aid or UIF since they are still considered contractors. While there is a call for more labour protection laws for giggers, you will still be solely responsible for such benefits.

We can all agree that finding full-time work is a hard task, but isn’t it exciting to be part of the changing tide of employees changing the world of work? Goodluck!