The gig economy for the greater good

Y4Y Youth Workforce

Job markets are changing, and young people entering the workforce are finding it harder than ever to secure employment. Meanwhile, the rise of the Gig Economy is creating new sources of demand for services.

While the Australian Government spends billions of dollars on job programs every year, there’s a lack of innovation in how these programs are implemented, and traditional models in isolation are not having the required long-term impact – no program has had a dent in youth unemployment rates for over 40 years.

Since 1999, Whitelion has supported young Australians to reach their potential, collaborating with communities, organisations and government to address issues faced by at-risk youth. One of its key roles as an agent for change includes providing a range of services to assist unemployed young people take steps on the career ladder. Our ongoing research into Redesigning Work meant Portable was in a good position to help Whitelion and its partners develop Youth For Youth (Y4Y) Youth Workforce, a program aimed at finding innovative ways to combat youth unemployment, prepare people for the jobs of the future, and inform government policy.

The expertise used in this project included:

  • Research
  • Design
  • Development

The rise of the gig economy – a labour market that involves completing one-off tasks for businesses or individuals – has created a new pool of demand for services. Still in its infancy, gig work is going through some regulatory growing pains, and it also presents challenges for the worker in areas such as tax, superannuation and access to training and development.

Portable’s work with Whitelion is an ongoing multi-year project, but some of the questions we set out to explore around the gig economy include determining whether it can be used as an opportunity to get young Australians on the employment ladder, if there’s a way to develop a one-stop shop for a gig-worker to manage their finances, and how we might give people the training resources they need.

  1. In order to secure funding to pilot our new ideas, Portable worked with Whitelion to help the organisation think and act more like a start-up and develop a pitch to put forward to potential supporters, such as the Department of Social Services.
  2. We conducted research into the moments where a significant impact on the career journey of young people is possible, especially the moments when people attempt to come into the workforce for the first time, which are critical to their prospects. This complemented work undertaken by Y4Y partner, Nous.
  3. By asking ourselves how we might use technology and existing networks – online and off – to help people through this journey and into employment, we were able to ideate and develop tools that can explore whether the gig economy can be used as an opportunity to get young Australians on the employment ladder.

Outcomes and benefits:

  • Y4Y Youth Force has been funded $1.5 million from the Department of Social Services, under the federal Try, Test, Learn initiative, to run eight pilots with young people in Victoria.
  • Young job-seekers are currently taking part in a ground-breaking program to build employability skills and get paid tasks through the gig economy, helping develop skills that employers want.‍
  • As digital partner, Portable helped plan and execute a Y4Y Youth Force marketing website, a digital marketing campaign, and develop partnerships with companies like Deliveroo, Airtasker and Sidekicker.

Y4Y is exploring several innovative models for tackling youth unemployment, and the trials being undertaken will help inform policy direction when Federal Government programs go through future funding cycles and consider the future of work, especially for young people.

Download our report on the future of work


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