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Is the Gig economy a liberating new form of self-employment or a new form of exploitation?


At first, the term ‘gig’ was commonly used to refer to musicians who would play wherever they could, going from place to place to get paid for their performance.


A gig economy nowadays represents an environment in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.


The whole idea behind the gig economy for its supporters is that individuals – who work as freelancers and do not sign any stable contract of employment – can sell their work on a task to task base.


Depending on where one is looking at, the gig economy represents either a promising economic model which would enable individuals to unleash their full potential and to be more creative as freelancers; or it is a temporary and unsuitable ideal which needs to be regulated by competent policymakers before it is too late.

Dynamics are shifting

The realities of ‘gig work’

Meanwhile, surprisingly little is known about the realities of ‘gig work’. Is it a liberating new form of self-employment or a new form of exploitation? There is a growing need to reflect on how society deals with these changes in a manner that protects and educates young people.

The Gap

In addition, education and training (towards work) is mainly set up as either a preparatory route towards becoming a professional (employee). And during the last decade, schools and training centres have set up more and more entrepreneurship training courses as well. These are mainly build on turning an idea into a viable businesses. In between these two there is a gap.

A promising economic model or an unsuitable ideal?

Labour market dynamics are shifting rapidly driven by technological progress and globalization. At the same time, less people are keen to engage as a full-time employee. On top of that, more and more organizations do not issue fixed contracts anymore. The gig economy also includes (and is sometimes called) the "on-demand, peer, or platform economy". Embodied by companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, Airbnb, Handy and Deliveroo, this economy operates by offering marketplaces based on ratings and payment systems routed through apps.

It’s time to prepare individuals and communities for the opportunities and threats of the gig economy.


Knowledge & Awareness

GIG facilitates knowledge development about the emerging GIG economy to share, discuss and develop effective methods to address the risks and opportunities of the GIG economy. We will develop and implement a dedicated learning campaign for awareness raising amongst stakeholders. It will be an on- and offline learning campaign aimed at educational institutes (VET and universities), employment and enterprise offices, youth organisations, local and regional authorities, etc. with the purpose of knowledge raising and exchange concerning about the gig economy and the effect on it on starters on the labour market.

Education & Training

We will develop and run a vocational training programme for youth and those affected most by the gig economy labour market. By participating in the GIG project, learners will not only learn about the gig economy and the opportunities and threats it encompasses, when finalising their participation in the project they will be better equipped to enter the labour market and will be armed against the possible exploitation in the gig economy.

Alliances & Strategies

Unite all stakeholders that are affected by the changes the gig economy will bring by setting up regional alliances and develop regional strategies resulting in action plans. By joining forces and setting up regional alliances, also stakeholders that are affected by and have to deal with the consequences of the gig economy will have better understanding of the concept and will be better equipped to prepare for this changing environment. In order to facilitate other European regionals to set up their own regional alliance as well, a practical toolkit describing how to set up an integrated regional network of gig-economy stakeholders will be one of the main results of the project.


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