So how is the internet really changing the way we work and, especially, the way we search for and get a job? The process of finding a job, performing the job and being paid for the job all take place online.There are two types of platforms- microwork and online freelancing, each targeting different segments of workers and employers.
However, given the rapid expansion in access, this may not be the key constraint in the future—especially for youth. Skills demands for online work are still high for most workers in developing countries.
Tasks available today on online outsourcing platforms range from very easy tasks to complex ones.
In 2013, at least 145 online outsourcing marketplaces or platforms were identified globally, although the true number is likely to be higher.[i] Some of these platforms are very large: 17 million registered users at Freelancer and 9.7 million at Upwork.
About 10 percent of registered workers are active.[ii] According to their 2014 annual report, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Israel are the top five hiring countries on o Desk (now part of Upwork)—the largest online freelancing platform.
First, workers can access jobs with higher wages than many would be able to access in their home countries, and they can work flexibly from home.
In fact, the results of a survey of online workers on conducted as a part of the World Development Report 2016 “Digital Dividends” show that the top two advantages of working as microworkers are: (i) able to work from home and (ii) able to earn extra money besides regular jobs, with the former being particularly important for women (Figure 1).These quotes are just a glimpse at the power of digital technologies, coming from many amazing stories as people answered the following question online: “how has your life changed (personally or professionally) after you began to use the internet?” A key message from the responses is As discussed in the upcoming World Development Report 2016 “Digital Dividends,” the internet, and other digital technologies, are changing the way people work, entertain, interact, and find jobs across high, middle and low-income countries. Online outsourcing or freelancing platforms match employers (firms and individuals) and workers to perform work online.In the survey of microworkers.com, for example, respondents apply mainly for the following tasks: (i) writing and translation, (ii) sales and marketing, and (iii) administrative support, and the majority of them have previous work experience in IT or services industries.Most jobs require workers to have digital, cognitive, technical and socio-emotional skills.Figure 1: Main advantages and disadvantages of online work: Results from survey on : Survey of online workers on microworkers.com, where the majority of workers are from developing countries, especially South Asia.The survey was done as part of the background work for the World Development Report 2016.Microwork platforms offer relatively easier tasks such as image tagging, text transcription, and data entry.Online freelancing platforms post more advanced tasks like graphic design, web development, and technical report writing.In many respects, online outsourcing platforms erase international borders for accessing jobs.But these platforms are not frictionless, and remain far from global.