Over the course of the lockdown imposed in Luzon and other parts of the country, work from home has become the new normal for offices that continue to function.
For many businesses and even the government service, Senator Sonny Angara sees the work from home arrangements continuing even after the lockdown is lifted or at least until a vaccine is found for COVID-19.
In some cases, businesses have also made adjustments to their operations because of the losses they have incurred over the lockdown period and this includes downsizing.
“We are seeing the growth of the so-called gig economy in the country and with the extended period of the lockdown being implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be even more activities on this front as businesses have to adjust to the new normal,” Angara said.
“Workers affected by the lockdown will also be exploring new ways to make a living and with many businesses shutting down because they are unable to cope with their losses, people will start looking at alternative means of livelihood,” he added.
To prepare Filipinos for the skills needed for the gig economy and to promote and strengthen digital careers, Angara has filed Senate Bill 1469 or the National Digital Careers Act.
The gig economy refers to the practice of companies of hiring short-term, independent contractors or freelancers.
Jobs available to these freelancers usually fall under the umbrella of digital careers and in most instances the work is done outside of the office and payment is made based on output and fulfillment of deliverables.
There are also freelance jobs that have become staples in the Philippine setting such as those in Transportation Network Vehicle Service system, food delivery and courier services, and even home sharing.
In 2019, Forbes ranked the Philippines sixth among the fastest growing markets for freelancers, with a 35 percent income growth from the previous year.
Paypal, in its 2018 Global Freelancer Insights Report, analyzed 22 countries and noted that the Philippines has one of the highest number of freelancers per capita, at around two percent or roughly 1.5 to two million Filipinos.
“Freelancers are usually paid very well. They get to work at home, at their own pace, and without their micromanaging bosses looming over them. It’s the perfect set up for people who qualify for these jobs,” Angara said.
“On the part of the employers, hiring freelancers mean lower costs on their part and they get to tap a huge talent pool, all of which would make a positive impact on their bottom line,” he added.
The bill seeks to establish a legal framework for the gig economy that will map out strategies to promote and strengthen digital careers and institutionalize employment standards for digital career workers.
It also tasks the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to create, design and develop programs to ensure access to trainings, market and other forms of support or innovation strategies for digital careers.
“But first we have to ensure that the infrastructure is in place, specifically to provide reliable, high-speed internet access in all areas of the country. A lot of our activities under the new normal will rely on internet connectivity—be it education or commerce, so this must be among our national priorities now,” Angara said.
Under the bill, the DICT, together with the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Public Works and Highways and other relevant departments and agencies are tasked to ensure universal access to high-speed, quality and affordable internet by prioritizing and facilitating the development of connectivity infrastructures in the localities across the country.
The development of digital careers is one of the thrusts of Tatak Pinoy, an initiative of Angara that is meant to spur innovation, address supply chain issues, and develop the skills of Filipinos so that they will be prepared to face the demands of the constantly changing marketplace.
Some of the common lucrative digital jobs in the market today are the following:
a. Web development and designing
b. Online teaching and tutoring
c. Content creation (writing and copywriting and others)
d. Digital marketing (e-Commerce, sales and marketing)
e. Creative design, graphic designing, 3D modelling and CAD, game development, logo design and illustration, and audio and video production
f. Mobile app development
g. Search engine optimization
h. Virtual assistance (administrative support or assistance)
i. Branding and public relations, social media coordinator and community management
j. Web research, business intelligence and data analytics
k. Transcription and data entry jobs article and blog writing
l. Customer service and technical support
m. Human resource management and systems
n. Architecture services and other professional services through the Internet