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The Future of Work
Socioeconomic Issue on Spotlight

Work environments have considerably evolved over recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the work culture, with some physical offices closing down and remote work arrangements becoming the new norm. This shift has led workers to rethink traditional office setups and explore the opportunities offered by online platform work.

Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, embodies the emerging workforce and is poised to shape the future of employment. Born between 1997 and 2012, many Gen Zs have entered the workforce, bringing with them unique skills and qualities. Many are tech-savvy and skilled at multitasking, seamlessly managing multiple apps on their mobile devices. They embrace technology and innovation, often using them to their advantage.

A study released by Philcare (2024) revealed that Gen Z individuals prefer entrepreneurship and gig jobs over traditional employment. Over half (53%) of them prefer having multiple part-time jobs rather than one full-time work. This generation increasingly gives importance to leisure activities like travel, seeking to allocate funds and pursue jobs with flexible arrangements. Similar to previous generations, many Gen Zs aspire to work overseas. Fortunately, online platforms allow Filipinos to work for international companies without having to leave the country.

Gen Zs are often drawn to the gig economy or freelance work, which typically involves temporary, independent, or short-term contracts. Son (2022) highlighted concerns associated with these working arrangements, including the lack of social protection and benefits provided in traditional employment settings (e.g., social and health insurance, retirement savings), unfair pay practices, and limited control over working conditions. Aside from salary and career growth, Gen Zs prioritize flexible working arrangements that benefit their mental wellbeing in the workplace, indicating a nuanced approach in work productivity.  

Online platform work has been crucial for many workers, especially during the pandemic. Ride-hailing drivers, food delivery riders, and courier service workers have become common in both urban and peri-urban areas. A study on gig economy jobs released by the Asian Development Bank (2024) showed that more than half of the study respondents started working with the online food delivery platform GrabFood during the pandemic. Workers value the flexible hours, competitive pay, and autonomy the app offers. The risks inherent in these jobs necessitate the availment of affordable medical insurance for essential support in case of accidents.

Estrella et al. (2021) claimed that platform workers are often treated as independent contractors or freelancers based on service agreements. Platforms primarily serve as intermediaries between clients and riders. The authors stressed the importance of implementing policies to ensure fair wages for riders and recognize their contribution to the economy. They recommend formalizing riders' employment status to provide statutory benefits. Additionally, tech companies may adjust their business models to fit local markets and contexts, considering the origin of these platforms in developed countries.

There are currently no laws governing specific work conditions for online workers in the country despite their acknowledged advantages in the global market.  Filipinos have strong English proficiency and deep understanding of Western culture. They also have well established presence in online platform work, while commanding competitive engagement costs.

To address this gap, Serafica and Oren (2022) advocated for increased social dialogue between the government and stakeholders. Such dialogue can facilitate the development of relevant policies to protect online workers' rights and promote growth in the platform economy. Policymakers have to prioritize the protection of these jobs, and work to pass related bills pending in Congress.

Bayudan-Dacuycuy and Sinsay (2022) also proposed measures to improve social protection for self-employed and platform workers. They recommend simplifying processes, such as PhilHealth and Social Security System registrations, payments, and claims through a unified online platform. They suggested designing unemployment insurance with upskilling and reskilling benefits and integrating platform work into school curriculum as a career option for K to 12 students.

Online platforms provide livelihood opportunities, especially for women who are unable to hold regular jobs. Tabuga and Cabaero (2021) noted that women are more inclined than men to engage in online work due to its flexibility. The authors proposed increasing access to online entrepreneurship programs by reskilling the workforce and enhancing women’s digital skills. Leveraging digital platforms can promote social welfare by providing access to social protection programs and livelihood opportunities. Strengthening the country’s information and communications technology infrastructure is vital to bridge the digital divide and ensure equitable participation.

The evolving work landscape demands proactive measures to address emerging challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. The rise of Gen Z in the workforce and the expansion of online platform work ultimately present avenues for productive work engagements in both local and global labor markets.

Explore SERP-P for valuable insights on platform work and other labor-related topics. Below are some of them:

Gender Perspectives in E-livelihood and E-entrepreneurship

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