World Bank Promotes Microwork Opportunities for Palestinians
Digital work can increase innovative businesses and employment of youth and women
WASHINGTON, March 26, 2013 – The digital economy can leap geographic obstacles and bring new employment opportunities to Palestinians in the area of microwork. This is the finding of a new World Bank study, released today, which explores the feasibility of microwork as a path to job creation for Palestinian youth and women who can become digitally mobile economic actors using relatively basic digital infrastructure.
“Palestinian youth are increasingly tech-savvy so the potential for IT based forms of economic engagement, which can cross virtual borders, can be an exciting leap forward,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director. “We are fully supportive of efforts in this area as microwork is a unique phenomenon that has significant potential for local youth employment and services exports that can help the socio-economic development of the Palestinian Territories.”
Microwork is a series of small business tasks that have been broken out of a larger project including activities such as market research, data input, data verification, translation, graphic design, and even software development. The Palestinian Territories have a tech-savvy young population, proficient in English and with a 35 percent Facebook penetration. The high number of underemployed and unemployed skilled women in cities outside Ramallah offers a valuable source of labor and Palestinian internet access is competitive compared to other countries in the region.
“Microwork’s unique value proposition is that it can be performed anywhere at any time across geographical boundaries, using commonly available computers and Internet connections,” said Siou Chew Kuek, ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank. “It is particularly relevant to the Palestinian Territories as it enables local youth and women to access jobs in the global knowledge economy.”
The World Bank analysis indicates that microwork can have a significant impact on Palestinian employment and economy. The study estimates conservatively that it could up to 55,000 part-time jobs in the next five years, but the actual impact could be much higher due to the global industry’s rapid growth. The study also suggests roles for various stakeholders to develop the microwork industry including government, donors, private sector, academia, non-governmental organizations, and Palestinian youth and women.
To help kick start the process, the World Bank will design pilot programs for the Palestinian Territories to establish microwork examples and facilitate partnerships between international aggregators and local parties who can act as microwork intermediaries in this new area of opportunity.
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