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Online platform work, where internet-based platforms bring together people from across the world to carry out tasks, has emerged in recent decades as a new form of employment.

A new study undertakes a comparative analysis of skill development and workplace learning practices among two major types of online platform work [1]. This article gives some of the core points from the report. 

Online Work is Growing 

Online work mediated by internet-based platforms is growing. The rise of the platform economy is driven by advances in digitalization and a growing need for labor market flexibility. While many platform workers primarily engage in ‘gig’ work to overcome income constraints, some use it as an opportunity to develop new sources of income or new skills. There is a focus on the employment status of gig workers and working conditions, which are vital social challenges that need to be considered alongside the gig economy’s opportunities.

Driven by advances in digitalization, a growing need for flexibility, and efforts to overcome time and income constraints, the platform work business model is expected to grow in the future. However, the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the vulnerability of gig work, making the online platform work an essential topic of concern in the policy and public discourse on the future of work.

Microwork and Online Freelancing (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Microwork and Online Freelancing

Although crowd working practices are diverse, two fundamental types are microwork and online freelancing. In contrast to online freelancing, high-skilled projects, and activities, tasks in microwork are outsourced to crowdwork platforms by clients and broken down into small units of work to be carried out for pay. Microtasks can typically be completed in seconds or minutes and require basic computer literacy. Examples of microtasks are: 

  • image tagging
  • data entry
  • social media sentiment ratings
  • survey execution
  • transcription

Such tasks are usually monitored by algorithms rather than humans in an emergent mode of work supervision termed ‘algorithmic management. There has been a recent surge in the use of microwork in processing big data sets for training machine learning algorithms underpinning artificial intelligence (AI).

Skill Development in Microwork and Online Freelancing

The report gives the following recommendations: 

  • Microwork can be a viable option for additional income.
  • Microwork can facilitate labor market integration.
  • Microwork should include skills development.
  • Policy-makers can support initiatives and platforms that build and promote support for complex and creative work to be executed in microwork marketplaces.
  • Encouraging self-regulatory learning.
  • Bridging communication gaps in microwork.


[1] Skill development in the platform economy. Comparing microwork and online freelancing (Cedefop 2021) {see the report…}

Lucubrate Magazine July 2021

Illustration on top of the article: Adobe stock

Digital transformation technology strategy, digitization and digitalization of business processes and data, optimize and automate operations, customer service management, internet and cloud computing (Adobe Stock)

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Lucubrate Magazine
Lucubrate Magazine

Lucubrate Magazine highlights trends in education and development. Development in this context can be technological, educational, individual, social or global, and everything related to education.
Lucubrate Magazine is a global based on the web magazine with the main office in Norway.

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