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
It explained that microwork provides mass employment for
people in developing countries, particularly young people and women.
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
It added that 60% of Palestinians in the territories read and
write English at an intermediate level and speak English at a basic and
English is a critical skill for microwork because
most platforms and task instructions are in English, according to the
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.
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.
to the report, “microwork aggregation risks dehumanizing the workers due to its
simple and repetitive tasks and relative distance between the job provider and
It added that companies, which prefer to choose workers from
specific countries, might prefer to seek nations with a higher population, such
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