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Just because it has an app, doesn’t make it a gig

A recent article in Forbeshttp://ww.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2016/03/21/gig-economy-app-blue-collar-job-on-demand/#51a7380f74e2, illustrates a problem with the media's focus on the gig economy.  The article, entitled "This App for Blue Collar Workers Offer a Twist on the Gig Economy" describes a well-funded start-up in Spain called Job Today which has launched an app to place workers in hospitality jobs that have "the Old School idea of a job where you are an employee."  I am sorry, Forbes, but being recruited into a job as an employee is by definition, not a gig.

Indeed Job Today is excited about the number of people it puts into jobs, not gigs.  It is a staffing segment that does not even represent white space in the staffing industry; there have been companies servicing  the hospitality industry with servers, bartenders and maids for decades.  Granted, the founders wanted to do a bit of  disrupting, since so many people find jobs in hospitality  by walking into a bar and offering up a paper resume.  This was a market inefficiency that technology could potentially address.

Using technology differently in the space is where the  confusion, probably arose.  Job Today has a Tinder Like app, where the user swipes to see different candidates. (The old HR Professor in me, sees some inherent potential discrimination issues in that, but hey... they are in Spain...) Just because there is a cool app, doesn't make a staffing firm a gig economy player.  Yes, sophisticated platforms for matching talent has enabled the freelance economy to be targeted and engaged more precisely, but this is sophisticated technology designed to help people get regular jobs. That said, they do handle some temporary ones, for vacancies or seasonal work, but their bread and butter is in the full-time regular hires.

So just to be clear, for any journalists or bloggers who might not understand my nuance here.  Regular employment  where people are hired as employees are not gig economy jobs even if a cool app is involved.  As McKinsey defines it, the gig economy is "contingent work that is transacted on a digital marketplace." Job Today has the second condition, but its goal is not the first.

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