We are very pleased to announce a new British Academy award, Precarious work and future careers in the context of the gig economy in South Africa and China, with CR&DALL Core Member, Dr Lesley Doyle, as Principal Investigator. Her co-investigators are Professor Lauren Graham, the University of Johannesburg and Dr Geng Wang, University of Tianjin. Dr Wang recently completed her PhD under Dr Doyle’s supervision. It is one of 49 projects funded under the Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling Global Challenges programme.
Youth increasingly face precarious work, such as internships and zero-hour contracts, as their first work experience. The growing “gig economy” has contributed to this precarious work. In upper and lower-middle-income countries, where youth unemployment rates are growing, such jobs are seen as a panacea; envisaged as fostering pathways to later secure work. Yet there is limited evidence about whether this is the case.
By analysing the labour market trajectories of a sample of youth over time, using equivalent panel datasets, and interpreting these within the labour market and social policy context of China and South Africa, we aim to assess whether assumptions that engagement in precarious work leads to later secure careers hold true.
This project assesses youth labour market trajectories since the 2008 economic crisis and offers an opportunity to inform policy in the context of the post-COVID-19 recovery period and the growth of the gig economy.