Quality work on the fringes

Job creation

Our program won USCM’s national prize for job creation initiatives. Current models of irregular work kill jobs. Systematic support can create them.

 

 

 

 

Stopping the race

Gig work companies have  untruthfully pushed a narrative that work flexibility is incompatible with employment rights. This idea has stuck. Many officials fear that irregular work is inherently bad and a publicly run platform can only exacerbate today’s race to the floor on wages, eroding jobs. Throughout the economy, that race is now an impact of platforms for ad-hoc work.

But low pay and lack of benefits is a requirement of Silicon Valley business models, not an integral aspect of flexible work. Their platforms must deduct enormous charges from workers’ earnings to repay investors.

A publicly provided marketplace disrupts today’s race to the floor.

There are no investors. Each work-seeker is exposed to more options, with data to inform decisions about which types of work to do. With lower overheads, wages can rise. That empowerment makes job-creation attractive if need for workers is regular. On-demand workers are no longer in the bargain bin.

 

Proven candidates

Current models of gig work penalize job progression. Accept part time work from someone who booked you on Handy.com for example and you must pay Handy $100 for “off-platform” activity. But public agencies regard transitions to a job as a target outcome. A CEDAH (Central Database of Available Hours) offers a range of tools to get irregulars into jobs.

So, imagine you’re a hotel manager with a housekeeper vacancy. You could advertise, then a few weeks later start on-boarding a candidate who did well at interview. Or, you could immediately search for provenly reliable irregular workers, with verifiable hospitality experience, living within 5 miles and keen to move to regular hours. You might create a shortlist then book them to work at your hotel next time you have an event. Or you could invite each in for a chat.

A CEDAH’s directory of work-seekers has multiple privacy protections and controls to be configured by each intermediary. But we have set one of our demonstration platforms to be open to anyone. You can view it here. (None of the entities or people shown exist.)

 

Tailored on-ramps

Many adults can’t work set hours because of their life commitments. For others, the thought of immediate regular hours is a step too far. A better irregular work market can entice, for example, someone just released from the justice system to “try a few hours work this afternoon, maybe a few more later in the week, perhaps a full day next month?”

This alternative to “You start your new job on Monday” can include Peer Navigators and other ad-hoc support built into each individual’s rhythm of incremental work.

 

Post pandemic pathways

Covid exploded demand for types of work that can offer routes into longer term careers in clinical, social work, security or customer-service. Most of this  employment is community level and flexible, even where it hours are regular.

For example, Community Health Workers may have a weekly 36 hours contract. But within that they typically have to respond to needs of the community, flitting from one household or location to another. They are flexible within their contractual regularity.

And much of the work is on short-term contracts. If it is scheduled through a local CEDAH, each person’s skills, reliability, preferences, and scope for other types of work is captured. That helps them taper out to other sources of employment as Covid funding dries.

 

Early data

A firehose of real-time information about movements in the flexible labor market can reveal trends in traditional employment before they show in BLS data. Did bookings of warehouse merchandising skills rise last month? Do childcare day centers show increased demand for on-demand support workers? Is there a surge of people with office receptionist skills?

Each of those categories of work are better performed by jobholders; the need for a worker is largely regular in each case. If there’s an uptick in utilization of top-up flexible workers, there’s probably jobs to be created. A CEDAH can find the workers wanting to transition to regularity with relevant, or adjoining, skills ready for an intervention.

Likewise, a flood of people with receptionist skills seeking work might signal a need for displaced worker support. A CEDAH report can show what related types of work are currently in demand.

 

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