数字平台改变就业市场 Digital marketplace reshapes casual labou
青岛希尼尔翻译公司（www.sinosenior.com）2015年9月18日获悉,Dmitry Melnichenko’s wife had doubts about
his plan to quit his stable, nine-to-five job to work from home as a
freelance web developer; there was the uncertain income stream, the lack
of interaction with colleagues and their young daughter to think about.
But not only has Mr Melnichenko earned more since going solo than his
wife expected, now Mrs Melnichenko, a financial controller with a large
Ukrainian agricultural company, is also quitting her job and training as
a coder — joining more than 120,000 Ukrainian freelancers pitching for
work on online platforms like Upwork.
“Previously I was working with one of the biggest outsourcing companies
on supply chain management. But now I can work from home and I have my
own clients, so I have much more freedom,” says Mr Melnichenko.
Ukraine’s army of freelancers, the fourth-largest in Upwork’s global
network, earned $61m in 2014. For the mainly western companies that dole
out jobs on the website, Ukrainian web and mobile developers are cheap,
responsive and easily assessed based on verified reviews by previous
Digital platforms like Upwork, which act as marketplaces matching
freelancers with work, are bringing new opportunities to many people who
were once on the fringes of the global workforce. But they are also
becoming a hot political potato on both sides of the Atlantic.
Thanks largely to the backlash against ride-hailing service Uber, the
type of work they are creating has come under intense scrutiny — in
particular, the impact they are having on more traditional jobs that
have come with secure pay and benefits.
Freelancers have long accounted for a significant share of the work in
some professions. But platforms like Uber and Upwork — a US-based
company formed from the merger of Elance and Odesk — represent a new way
to break jobs into piecemeal tasks and reach many more workers,
potentially affecting a far wider range of work.
Along with marketplaces for drivers and professionals, companies jumping
on this bandwagon include those providing so-called “on-demand”
services, from Instacart (grocery shopping) to Handy (home cleaning) and
Task Rabbit (for an almost limitless range of small errands).
For the Melnichenkos and others, the rapid expansion of a digital
marketplace for casual labour has offered greater flexibility and
opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had. Mr Melnichenko says the
arrival of online freelance platforms has meant he doesn’t have to move
to Kiev from his home town of Zaporizhia.
In the first three months of 2015 alone, 16,000 Ukrainian freelancers
registered with Upwork; many thousands of them fresh school or
university graduates, attracted by the promise of high earnings and
flexible conditions. Mobile and web developers are the most highly
sought workers but graphic designers and translators are also pitching
“All of a sudden, someone with a particular profile — a talent, or work
availability — can be matched with a need,” says James Manyika, a
partner at McKinsey. That pulls more people into the workforce who were
marginalised before, either because they couldn’t find a job or were
working fewer hours than they wanted. “This is often lost in the
debate,” he says.
The emergence of new digital platforms will add 2.5 per cent to European
employment numbers by 2025, with some countries like Spain potentially
seeing twice that growth, according to McKinsey — though the higher
numbers are partly the result of making work previously done in the
informal “grey economy” visible by pulling it on to online marketplaces.
In the US, digital platforms already provide a material source of income
for many, according to Mary Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The average professional finding
work on Thumbtack earns $8,000 a year, with Airbnb users making $7,700
and eBay sellers pull in $3,000, she says — meaningful given most see
these as supplemental forms of income. Companies like Uber also argue
that many of their workers rely on several different platforms to make a
living, making it unfair to judge them on the basis of their earnings
from a single marketplace.
风投公司凯鹏华盈(Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers)合伙人玛丽猠克(Mary
But by opening up work to people who were unable to compete easily in a
global market for talent, digital marketplaces have already produced
some clear winners. Dennis Vorobyov, a web developer whose company,
GBKSOFT, also bids for jobs on Upwork, says his mother, a doctor with
over 25 years experience, earns less in one month than many of his web
developer friends can earn from US clients in one day.
“People are now dreaming of becoming programmers, we have more and more
schools offering courses in programming,” he says. “This is a big change
in psychology; young Ukrainians these days are brave; they aren’t scared
to register online and start freelancing. It’s a different attitude to
life and money.”