• Are young people aged 16-19 using or expecting to use the gig economy for their careers

      Galfalvi, Esther; Hooley, Tristram; Neary, Siobhan; University of Derby (NICEC, 2020-10)
      Amid growing precarity and zero hour contracts, the ‘gig economy’ represents a new way of working mediated by web technology. Workers can sign up to a work platform – a website or smartphone program that manages the work automatically – and take on work at the tap of a button. Some platforms manage labour, such as driving for Uber or delivering food for Deliveroo, while others manage retail activity, such as Ebay or Etsy. Recent research has shown that a significant number of people are using platform work to earn money, with over half being young people aged 16-34. While there are some data regarding satisfaction levels and attractors, there is little research examining specific age segments of workers, or the relationship between platform work and career. Using data from focus group interviews with school and Further Education college students, this paper will discuss findings from research investigating how young people in England aged 16-19 perceive the gig economy and whether they feel that it will be relevant to their careers, with a view to discussing whether it may be necessary to include in careers education programmes or guidance. The interview data indicate that these participants were occasionally using platforms to make money, and a few were earning regularly, usually on retail platforms. While some interviewees appreciated the autonomy and flexibility promised by gig economy work, the uncertainty, perceived low status, and lack of career progression prevented them from taking it seriously as a career option. Instead, they preferred traditional forms of work that provide more stability and organisational support - an increasingly rare commodity in a labour market that is changing rapidly in the opposite direction. We conclude that while there may be little value in giving detailed individual guidance on the gig economy, it could be valuable to use it as a way of teaching young people about the labour market and different types of employment