The proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has created new opportunities for young people around the world to engage in digital work.
Why focus on digital jobs?
- Wider use of the Internet, which cuts search costs and makes it easier for workers and employers to find each other
- An increasing share of work that is digitized and can thus be disaggregated and geographically distributed, changing the organization of work
- A greater range of digital work that is inclusive, as it does not require high-level skills to accomplish, allowing people with even basic digital skills and literacy to work on simpler tasks
Critically, digital work is not only limited to work within the IT industry (e.g. software development, hardware design, networking), but also includes work where ICTs enable workers to find paid work online, often remotely (e.g. data entry, image categorization, graphic design, office assistance). Thus, while only up to 5% of the workforce in many countries works directly in the IT industry – high paying jobs with positive spillovers – the greater possibility arises from increases in productivity and innovation stemming from ICT in occupations across other sectors of the economy.
Hence, there is a need to identify how developing countries – especially those facing a youth bulge – can take advantage of the opportunities of digital work, while also preparing for the coming effects of technological change. Moreover, what is not well known is how digital interventions have so far included women and what design elements could be helpful to connecting young girls to the digital economy. More gender-specific models could be developed that help address women’s constraints to accessing such jobs.