The World Bank wants to help provide 55,000 new part-time job opportunities over the next five years for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza through an emerging online phenomenon called microwork.

The sophisticated web-based assembly lines allow people anywhere in the world to work from home for global companies by completing micro tasks on the Internet.

The World Bank plans to hold a microwork pilot study in the Palestinian territories, but no exact date has been set.

“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, the World Bank country director for the West Bank and Gaza.

On Wednesday the bank publicly released a feasibility study, “Microwork for the Palestinian Territories,” that explored the pros and cons of such global outsourcing.

It explained that microwork provides mass employment for people in developing countries, particularly young people and women.

The jobs can be done anywhere at anytime by people with computers or smart phones, according to the report.

“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 report noted such jobs bypassed all the issues relating to movement and access which have created problems for the Palestinian economy and its workers.

It explained that the Palestinian territories benefit “from demographic characteristics that position it well in terms of labor quantity for microwork.”

In 2011, 66 percent of the population was below the age of 24, and its literacy rate was 94%, according to the World Bank report.

Some 39.4% of Palestinians in the territories over the age of 10 used the Internet in 2011. In 2011, 50.9% of Palestinian households had a computer, of which 30.4% had Internet. But according to the report, 53.7% of Palestinians in the territories had access to a computer.

It added that 60% of Palestinians in the territories read and write English at an intermediate level and speak English at a basic and intermediate level.

English is a critical skill for microwork because most platforms and task instructions are in English, according to the report.

There are a number of microwork tasks that involve translating English into Arabic, according to the report.

Other possible tasks include market research, data input, data verification, translation, graphic design, and even software development, according to the World Bank.

But there are still many downsides, the report said. The wages are as low as $1 or $2 an hour, the employees have no benefits, no job security and it is unlikely that workers could organize to create change, the report said.

According to the report, “microwork aggregation risks dehumanizing the workers due to its simple and repetitive tasks and relative distance between the job provider and the worker.”

It added that companies, which prefer to choose workers from specific countries, might prefer to seek nations with a higher population, such as Egypt.

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