It’s no secret that the economy in the entirety of North America has declined in years past, but the rate at which college/university graduates are having trouble finding work is too large to be ignored. The Economic Policy Institute reports that between April 2013 and March 2014, 8.5% of grads between 21-24 were unemployed. In addition to that, 16.8% of new grads are underemployed, which means they are working part-time, have been looking for work within the last year, are jobless or any of the combined scenarios.
So where are these underemployed, over-skilled graduates to go? Should they become cleaners, delivery drivers or handymen/handywomen? Luckily, the new generation of youth have for all intents and purposes done away with discrimination in terms of what job title a person holds, due to lack of jobs. Most people hold day jobs (usually part time) and pursue their goals in their off time.
The shared economy (also known as collaborative consumption) allows just that. Earning money during one’s spare time whenever they want, however they want. No contracts, no restrictions, and no job interviews are just some of the reasons commodity-sharing platforms are popping up everywhere and taking economies by storm. Uber, Lyft, AskforTask, and Airbnb are a few examples of an ever-growing industry that has governments and regulators scrambling to create legislation to ban certain companies in their cities, specifically the ride share programs that cannot be tariffed or licensed as of yet.
Fortunately, the shared economy seems as though it cannot be stopped. It is too fast, too convenient, and too simple to be. Picking up a neighbour’s dry-cleaning, doing house cleanings, or becoming a handyman are effective ways to earn extra cash, and more people than you think are doing it. Over 80 million in the United States, 23 million in the U.K. and 10 million in Canada are becoming “taskers” or “micro-entrepreneurs”.
What are the arguments against it? There aren’t many. One might be able to say that these industries are unsafe and unregulated but this is untrue, in the cases of the most popular apps/sites users are vetted and a user-review system is in place to steer other users away from using the unpopular few. AskforTask uses a 5-star rating system, similar to iTunes or Airbnb. This encourages everyone to do a good job and be friendly because their reputation is on the line. A social resume of sorts has been created.
A lot of the criticisms seem far-fetched, and are the result of the current industries turning up their nose to consumers finding more pleasant experiences through the use of these platforms. Even South Park recently mocked the cab industry for it’s disapproval of rideshares.
Regardless of location, a whole generation of underemployed youth have embraced house cleanings, deliveries and rideshares as a way to help out others in their community while building relationships that are predominantly face-to-face. For a long while society seemed to be growing further apart due to technology, but collaborative consumption has utilized technology (through apps like AskforTask or Uber) to bring people back together in the form of in-person interactions.