The very recent issue that is gaining the brightest spotlight is the fundamental transformation around labor and job market. Innovative digital technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is replacing human labor and jobs in a rapid pace through industrial structure reformation. Of course, the society can advantage from new jobs thanks to the digital economic expansion. However, untact jobs, works that do not require face-to-face services, were expanded by COVID-19 and were followed by explosive demand for delivery workers along with IT developers.
We live in a world where one can solve her everyday matters with a single smartphone. But why is it that the job market and economic conditions of the majority seems to be never improving? Despite the continuous development of technology, the recent statistics suggest we are not achieving any industrialization or increase in productivity like we did in the first and second industrial revolutions. The renowned Nobel Economics Prize winner, Robert Solow, named the very phenomenon where computerization in the late 20th century did not lead to productivity increase as “Productivity Paradox.”
Digital technology distribution and popularization of smartphones first changed the way we work, rather than the number of jobs. The spread of short- term employment where employers find workers whenever there is a demand, the Gig Economy, and On-Demand Economy where immediate response to consumers’ demands is of the utmost importance, is all leading to emergence of jobs and employment forms suitable for digital platform businesses. Unlike the conventional way of providing service with the current labor force, Gig employees are so-called “delivered” labor provider who makes a temporary employment contract only during the time she is needed.
Such workers are not limited to simple labor such as delivery or cleaning. It is being expanded to specialized work areas such as attorney at law, designers, or consultants. The Gig Economy is expected to grow in much rapidly in the future. This is because firms and conglomerates are trying to change regular employment payroll costs to variable labor costs in order to deal with the uncertainty of digital economy. These vitalization of Gig Economy enables re-entering the labor market to retirees or full-time housewives. This could also enlarge the profits for current working force via supplementary labor. But there exists a sore thumb in the ever-changing job market and employment forms – the younger generations. Last year, the employment rate of those in their twenties marked the lowest figures with only 55.7%. The younger generation being Gig employee as their first job and the older generation joining the Gig Economy has a totally different meaning. When the younger generation’s job experience takes its first step from a short-term temporary job, it is difficult to set career visions and workexperiences to overcome the job market limitations.
As the younger generation is driven out to be the disadvantaged in the job market and starts from economically miserable state, it is said that the contemporaryyounger generation will be the first to be poorer than their parent generation. This is a very tragic thing. But there is a point we should acknowledge; the employment problem of the younger generation did not just stem from lack of jobs due to digital technology and industrial structure revolution. People with vested rights are also to blame for the harsh job market.
We need a political alternative to alleviate the pain of younger generation in the job market. The government must use the national finance to raise the lacking ITdevelopment forces rather than temporary one-off service. The government should release the regulation on the quota for university majors and provide incentives to firms that offer employment opportunities after offering training programs to the younger generation.