Can A Global Gig Economy Save Refugees Through Distributed Work?
I was talking with my friend Karine Allouche Salanon, GM at GlobalEnglish, about the global refugee crisis and the seemingly under thought issue of location assimilation [read her post here].
Historically, refugees would integrate locally: work, housing, school for children. But in today’s global economy, that need not be the case. And often, all of these elements present challenges for the local governments working through the high number of refugees.
We started thinking about the Gig Economy as the solution to bringing much needed paying work to refugees, reducing the burden of acclimation by local governments and reducing the incidents of violence spurred by perceptions of refugees displacing native workers.
Non-profits, most notably Samasource, are helping broker jobs for those in camps, which is one piece of the equation. Karine and I discussed more the local issues once a refugee finds themselves in Turkey or Germany or France. Given that the reason for their immigration is one of global significance, why must the local government and business be the only entities capable of providing access to work—why can’t large firms from around the world reach out to refugees and help them find work not where they ended up, but where the work is needed.
Global businesses should start investing in refugees as remote workers, eliminating the issues of local prejudice and national and municipal work regulations. People can be virtually banked, virtually hired and contribute virtually, and significantly on a basic PC, even a smart phone. Local and national governments would concentrate on low-cost, high-speed digital infrastructure, which serves their existing population as much as it does the incoming refugees.
We have all heard about how hard it is for people with certifications in one country to get work in their professions when they are force to immigrate to another country. This issues involves professions ranging from welding and electrical, to plumbing to healthcare. Doctors and nurses trained and working in one country must go through several levels of reexamination in order to once again serve as caregivers.
In refugee camps, in disaster areas and war zones, people don’t look at credentials They want people who can provide services. So what if medical groups partnered with Doctors Without Borders to bring virtual triage to critical areas via smart phone cameras for images and video, and translation applications for basic instructions. Firms like Karines’s GlobalEnglish could help bring improved communications and knowledge through shared language, which would also help the working refugees gain critical skills that would make the global economy even more accessible to them.
Remote workers can also effectively contribute to any other remote work scenario, such as customer service, software development and research. Rather than the refugees being a burden on the economy they could help create net new jobs.
This approach flips the investment from large corporations pouring money into NGOs with indirect results to direct investment and hiring for their own needs.
The refugee crisis is moving into a new phase as those who found a place to live now need a way to earn a living wage so that they can better acclimate to the local culture and contribute to the local economy. In many cases, there just aren’t enough jobs in the area, so it’s time to expand the area to the entire globe so that people can connect to work and deliver value wherever it may be.