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The Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) held a forum titled "Stepping into the Platform: How the Gig Economy changes the way we work" to learn more about the emerging platform work or app-based work at Commune, Makati City last October 11.

As defined by the European Foundation, platform work is an employment form in which organizations or individuals use an online platform to access other organizations or individuals to solve specific problems or to provide specific services in exchange for payment.

Practitioners from the industry served as speakers while representatives from the offices of the Department of Labor and Employment and its partners participated.

The topics discussed were transitioning from office to freelance job, practice of profession using platform, transition from freelancing to building a start-up, transforming workplaces, and how platform contributes to the creative industry.

Emerging Opportunities

“Since platform banks on internet connectivity the government’s initiative to improve the country’s internet is an opportunity for the industry,” said Mr. Genesis Reonico, President of the Digital Career Advocates of the Philippines (DCAP) and one of the speakers during the forum.

Mr. Reonico added that platform work also aim to empower rural communities as DCAP bring digital career opportunities to areas lacking traditional employment facilitation. It will also contribute to the rise of the OFW 2.0 or the Online Filipino Worker who earns dollars without the need of leaving home.

On Security of Tenure

Despite its flexibility benefits, the issue of security of tenure has long been a debate when it comes to the sustainability of platform work and freelancing. To shed light on this, the speakers from the forum made some remarks.

“Security of tenure becomes an issue because we think of freelancing as a form of work or job. However, it is a business, and, in a business, there is no such thing as Security of Tenure. When you do freelance, you are the business and some freelancers give jobs.”, Mr. Reonico stated.

Adding to this, Ms. Ria Lu, Executive Director of the Industry Development Department of Game Developers Association of the Philippines said, “It’s really all about the mindset. When going into platform, we should change the mindset of just ‘getting a secured job’ to ‘getting a purpose’. And this means tradeoffs for something bigger and meaningful”.

Challenges and Way Forward

Though it may seem that slow internet connection is one of the biggest hindrances of those who work in the platform industry, the open forum revealed that there are far more deeper issues they face. Some of which are lack of recognition and support for the work they do.

“What we need is recognition that what we do is a serious matter and legit so that people won’t look down on us.,” Arch. JP Espino of the Digital Architect shared.

In line with that, the speakers pointed out that the government should further understand the platform economy.

Ms. Ann Kristine Peñaredondo explained: “What we need is more dialogues and opportunities for both parties to discuss on how to fill the existing gaps in platform economy, instead of coming up with more legislations and policies.”

With the insights shared during the discussion, the challenge of the practitioners now for the government is to open its doors for more conversations with the right people.