Make full use of the gig economy incentives

The increasing contribution of gig economy to the national economy needs to be appreciated and highly valued.

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Published by Business Today, Focus Malaysia, The Malaysian Reserve, New Straits Times & The Sun Daily, image from Business Today.

In sailing through the storm brought about by the heavy blow caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and its concomitant Movement Control Order (MCO) which has slightly abated now when current economic condition is seen as gradually picking up and unemployment slowing down, there is a need for the beneficiaries to wholly utilise the incentives provided for the gig economy.

This idea to further normalise gig economy stemmed from the fact that 26 percent of the labour force in Malaysia forms part of the growing gig economy, equivalent to 4 million freelancers. In terms of growth, gig economy has expanded 31 percent in 2017, surpassing conventional workforce.

Gig economy is widely defined as ‘platform economy’, ‘on-demand economy’ and ‘sharing economy’ that refers to the demand and supply of short-term or task-based working activities.

In the past years, there is a growing number of people joining gig economy to look for extra incomes or as their main source of income.

As said by the Deputy Dean of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Human Ecology Mohamad Fazli, working part-time and freelancing have been around for ages. These jobs have become more pronounced due to the rise of digital platforms.

It is also driven by the flexibility in terms of working hours and work location, the freedom to choose the type of work and the pay can be lucrative as well.

Now that remote working has emerged as the new norm and a more preferred working style particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, the share of gig workers is likely to be more than 26 percent.

Even before Covid-19, a study by Zurich Insurance has shown 38 percent of full-time employees in Malaysia are considering to venture into gig economy in the next 12 months, higher than the global average of 20 percent.

According to the CEO of Gigworks, Glenn Tay, freelancing work will not be diminishing anytime soon but will continue to grow rapidly as majority of the labour force is made up of younger generations who tend to be tech-savvy and their priorities are relatively more inclined towards work-life balance. 

In other countries, gig economy trends are also on the rise resulting from the shift of workforce.

Based on the Global Gig-Economy Index, the United States ranked 1st out of 10 fastest-growing freelance markets with revenue growth of 78 percent, followed by the United Kingdom (59 per cent) in the 2nd place, while in Asia, Philippines is placed 6th with revenue growth of 35 percent and India, with 29 percent.

This shows that globally, people have gradually made gig economy a viable option to earn a living and statistics have shown that on the global scale, gig economy tends to attract more young adults – 25-34 years (46.2 percent) and 35-44 (32.5 percent).

So, positive perception on gig economy should be instilled within the society especially when jobs can still be done anywhere while leveraging on technology.

Based on a report by a talent outsourcing and consultancy group KellyOCG, 84 per cent of hiring managers in Asia Pacific outsource to freelancers as a means to save cost, stimulate innovation and keep a competitive advantage.

In Malaysia, it is good to see the government has their eye on the gig economy with incentives involving gig workers’ welfare in Penjana package worth RM75 million.

Measures include a matching grant of up to RM50 million for gig economy platforms that contribute to the workers through SOCSO and EPF’s i-Saraan, and RM25 million for MDEC’s Global Online Workforce (GLOW) programmes. These measures seem to be attractive as beneficiaries’ social safety will be partly taken care of.

However, comprehensive outreach always seems to be the problem when it comes to policy execution.

In this case, awareness and information about the incentives might have not fully reached the gig workers as there are only 2,847 workers registered with SOCSO as of 11 September (0.95 percent) when the target is 300,000.

Additionally, the launch of RM100 million Ministry of Higher Education’s National Economic Reform Plan (Penjana) Career Advancement Programme (KPT-CAP) is rather timely to enhance the freelancing capability of graduates in a gig economy.

This newly announced programme is important to upskill the youngsters, as being in a gig economy also requires specific skillsets. If not addressed, it can end up with freelancers being underpaid or not paid although they are overworked.

According to PayPal, 58 percent of freelancers in several Southeast Asian countries experienced not being paid because they are not taken seriously by the clients.

Hence, this calls for an efficient utilisation of the existing measures that had been announced by the government and for the leading government agencies to monitor the effectiveness and the level of awareness amongst target group so that the benefits would reach them.

Although gig economy has its drawbacks pertaining to its low benefits, the fact that it is a growing contributor to our national economy needs to be valued.

Nur Sofea Hasmira Azahar is Research Analyst at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

Bahasa Melayu

Diterbitkan oleh Malaysiakini & Berita Harian, gambar-gambar daripada Malaysiakini.

Dalam proses pemulihan ekonomi negara yang terjejas akibat pandemik Covid-19 dan perintah kawalan pergerakan (PKP), terdapat keperluan bagi pekerja ekonomi gig untuk memanfaatkan insentif yang diperuntukkan buat mereka.

Idea untuk giat mempromosikan ekonomi ini tercetus daripada statistik yang menunjukkan bahawa 26 peratus daripada tenaga buruh di Malaysia disumbang oleh ekonomi gig yang sedang berkembang – bersamaan dengan empat juta pekerja bebas (freelancer).

Dari segi pertumbuhan, ekonomi gig berkembang 31 peratus pada tahun 2017, mengalahkan tenaga buruh konvensional.

Ekonomi gig didefinisikan secara meluas sebagai “ekonomi platform”, “ekonomi atas permintaan” dan “ekonomi bersama” yang merujuk kepada permintaan dan penawaran perkhidmatan jangka masa pendek atau berdasarkan tugas.

Sejak beberapa tahun lalu, bilangan orang yang menyertai ekonomi gig untuk mencari pendapatan sampingan atau bekerja secara sepenuh masa semakin meningkat.

Menurut Timbalan Dekan Fakulti Ekologi Manusia di Universiti Putra Malaysia Mohamad Fazli, pekerjaan sambilan dan freelancing sudah lama wujud dengan kemudahan teknologi masa kini.

Perkembangan ekonomi gig juga didorong oleh fleksibiliti masa bekerja. Konsep pejabat untuk mereka boleh sahaja di mana-mana.

Kebebasan untuk memilih jenis kerja dan pendapatan juga boleh jadi lebih lumayan daripada pekerjaan tetap.

Memandangkan sekarang ini kerja jarak jauh sudah menjadi norma baharu dan gaya kerja pilihan, sumbangan pekerja ekonomi gig kepada tenaga buruh boleh meningkat lebih daripada 26 peratus.

Bahkan sebelum Covid-19, kaji selidik Zurich Insurance menunjukkan terdapat 38 peratus pekerja sepenuh masa di Malaysia sedang mempertimbangkan untuk menceburkan diri dalam ekonomi gig dalam masa 12 bulan.

Angka ini lebih tinggi daripada purata global sebanyak 20 peratus.

Menurut Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Gigworks, Glenn Tay, pekerjaan freelancing akan terus berkembang pesat kerana sebahagian besar tenaga buruh terdiri daripada generasi muda yang celik teknologi.

Dan keutamaan mereka mungkin lebih cenderung kepada keseimbangan antara pekerjaan dan kehidupan.

Trend ekonomi gig di negara-negara lain juga meningkat disebabkan oleh transformasi tenaga kerja.

Indeks Ekonomi Gig Global

Berdasarkan Indeks Ekonomi Gig Global, Amerika Syarikat menduduki tempat pertama di antara 10 pasaran freelancing yang berkembang pesat dengan pertumbuhan hasil sebanyak 78 peratus, diikuti United Kingdom di tempat kedua (59 peratus) manakala di Asia, Filipina menduduki tempat keenam (35 peratus) dan seterusnya India (29 peratus).

Jadi, persepsi positif pada ekonomi gig perlu diterapkan dalam kalangan masyarakat di Malaysia, lebih-lebih lagi apabila pekerjaan gig boleh dilakukan di mana-mana dengan memanfaatkan kemudahan teknologi.

Di Malaysia, berita baiknya adalah kerajaan sudah mula mengambil berat terhadap ekonomi gig dengan memberikan lebih insentif yang melibatkan kebajikan pekerja melalui pakej rangsangan ekonomi.

Contohnya, dalam pakej Penjana, geran padanan berjumlah RM50 juta diperuntukkan bagi platform ekonomi gig untuk mencarum pekerjanya bawah Skim Bencana Pekerjaan Perkeso dan Skim i-Saraan KWSP.

Dan sejumlah RM25 juta diperuntukkan kepada MDEC bagi program Global Online Workforce (Glow).

Malangnya, insentif-insentif ini masih belum dimanfaatkan sepenuhnya oleh pekerja ekonomi gig.

Menurut Tengku Zafrul, hanya 2,847 pekerja ekonomi gig yang mendaftar dengan Perkeso sehingga 11 September (0.95 peratus).

Ia masih jauh daripada sasaran 300,000 pekerja.

Selain itu, pelancaran program Penjana Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi-Career Advancement Programme (Penjana KPT-CAP) boleh membantu meningkatkan keupayaan freelancing bagi graduan yang berminat menyertai ekonomi gig.

Program KPT-CAP ini penting untuk mendidik golongan anak muda kerana ekonomi gig juga memerlukan kepakaran tertentu.

Sekiranya hal ini tidak ditangani dengan baik, pekerja freelancing mungkin akan dibayar rendah ataupun tidak dibayar langsung, walaupun mereka bekerja secara berlebihan.

Menurut PayPal, 58 peratus pekerja freelancing di beberapa buah negara Asia Tenggara melalui pengalaman tidak dibayar gaji kerana mereka tidak diambil serius oleh pelanggan.

Oleh itu, hal-hal seperti ini harus diambil serius dan insentif yang sudah sedia ada perlu dimanfaatkan sebaiknya.

Badan-badan kerajaan yang terlibat harus memantau keberkesanan insentif dan tahap kesedaran di kalangan kumpulan sasar secara proaktif supaya manfaatnya sampai kepada mereka.

Walaupun ekonomi gig mempunyai beberapa kelemahan, peningkatan dalam sumbangannya kepada ekonomi negara perlu dihargai.

Nur Sofea Hasmira Azahar merupakan Penganalisis Penyelidik di EMIR Research, sebuah organisasi pemikir bebas yang fokus kepada pencernaan saranan-saranan dasar strategik berteraskan penyelidikan yang terperinci, konsisten dan menyeluruh.

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