Here’s the five key points:
1) CONTEXT: Employment is fragmenting
Across hospitality, retail, health/home care, catering, distribution, household services, hospitality, transport; workers are increasingly deployed on-demand. Citizens who used to expect predictable patterns of work for one organisation are striving to sell their time, hour by hour, often across multiple employers.
2) PROBLEM: It’s not working for workers
Blatant worker abuse can be tackled in courts. Issues like worker classification and portable benefits are moving up the national agenda. But there’s a fundamental issue for this new workforce: finding day-to-day periods of employment is uncertain and time-consuming. Then the work is typically low quality with little control or chance to progress.
Much of this work is found by asking around in the community. Some of it comes from scheduling systems and online marketplaces. These markets will arbitarily slash payrates, they can collapse without warning, opportunities to advance are negligible. So there’s constant churn, keeping commitment and workforce quality low.
3) SOLUTION: An underlying datastore
Some parts of the economy transitioned to small bookings while protecting sellers. Take travel: Airlines and hotel chains collectively set up the Global Distribution System (GDS). It’s a central datastore of: (a) availability of seats/rooms (b) how each is to be priced to maximize income.
Intermediaries wanting to access a deep market can use this data. Sites like Expedia, Booking.com or Travelocity then add a markup. But in such a broad market, their priorities do not trump those of the service providers.
A GDS gives sellers control and the widest possible market. They have refreshing data on opportunities and what their assets are worth. It enforces reliability, convenience and transparency; dramatically increasing overall demand for travel. The same broad concept can work in new labor markets.
4) CATALYST: “Full spectrum employment support”
Who initiates a more equitable market in a city? There is a sleeping giant currently sitting out labor market fragmentation: public workforce systems. Taxpayers spend billions a year to anticipate trends in employment, train workers, coach new entrants and re-engage those who have dropped out of labor markets. It’s bipartisan: healthy employment promotes self-reliance, cuts public costs, boosts local economies and broadens the tax base.
Around the world, this vast machine remains focused on traditional jobs. But suppose it started to go full-spectrum; extending stabilizing services that underpin labor markets into the new era? To keep jobs markets efficient, European nations and US states maintain comprehensive banks of openings and candidates. Why not also enable markets of available hours built around flexi-workers’ needs, covering all types of work? The private sector has no incentive to do it alone.
5) IMPACT: Information, interventions, innovation
The facility is called a CEDAH: Central Database of Available Hours. As with public job boards, any citizen can utilize a CEDAH alongside commercial alternatives. It takes in: (a) all the types of work they are willing to do (plus certification where required) (b) the terms on which they will sell their time (c) the hours they want to sell; today, tomorrow or off in the future.
Workers are vetted, insured and payrolled by intermediaries. Those bodies could be any mix of commercial temp. agencies, employment charities or public bodies; each inserting their mark-up on each hour sold. A CEDAH is just neutral infrastructure for this uniquely complex labor market. Under local control, it can support progression, protections, training models, worker classifications and financial services that are inconceivable now.
Some people are content in today’s splintering labor markets. Current models seem to work for employers and investors willing to commoditize staff. But many see purely profit-driven markets as destabilising and short-sighted. For them, any region or city can launch a locally controlled CEDAH as an additional choice.
The core technology has been funded by British government projects. But with problems around welfare changes in the UK slowing progress at home, we increasingly work abroad. Organizations including Aspen Institute, Council on Foundations, US Conference of Mayors, National Governors Association, Living Cities, National Association of State Workforce Agencies and Bloomberg have promoted CEDAHs to US city and state governments
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