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Sunday 20 January 2019
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The role of Big Data in the labour markets

data-wonkhe-bigWe are experiencing a new phenomenon characterised in the form of the data revolution, popularised by the rise of the internet, which enable the emergence of new diverse data sources.
 
The data revolution refers to ideas how data from multiple sources can be transformed into information that is accessible and understandable about aspects of their lives and how they can leverage on this information to change their lives for the better.
Moreover, employers and governments can also use this information to improve labour markets activities. Thus, remove the uncertainties.
 
Although it may be scary to some people, the term big data refers to large and complex datasets that cannot be handled by conventional processing applications. Big data pose a lot challenges such as analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy.
 
When dealing with big data it’s not the volume or amount that matters but what an organisation does with the data. Moreover, the value in big data lies in how the data is analysed to improve decision making and enhance service delivery. This article explains how big data can be applied to labour markets to enforcement of labour standards, inform policy making and decisions.
 
Today, we live in an interconnected digital era, powered by the Internet of everything (IoE), and where data is becoming the new ‘gold’ for the new digital economy. This is because of the enormous amounts of opportunities presented by the data revolution. Big data is not only revolutionising how intelligence is created but illustrating how informative analysis can be drawn from raw data.
 
Labour markets have been in turmoil and unstable for centuries, with uncertain employers who are concerned about available potential employees and their characteristics. On the other hand, job seekers (potential employees) are concerned about whether the potential employers will make good employers. This gap in the labour market is attributed to the rise of online boards to review jobs and online recruitment websites. These online platforms collect and harmonise labour markets information and sell it as a product to customers.
 
Practical and good examples of such website are LinkedIn, Monster and CareerBuilder. LinkedIn for example has about 450 million users globally and stores valuable information that can help advance labour research, furthermore they have acquired substantial information about employees’ history and vacancies from potential employers. This information is used to match a potential employer with a potential employee.
 
Job boards and websites such LinkedIn also use the information they generate for analytics purposes. For example, analysing the views on the different applications and how many of the people who view applications actually applied for the job specified in the application. With these diverse data, through its analytics algorithm LinkedIn is able recommend potential employees with certain know-how and skills to employers that seek those skills.
 
Online labour markets have seen significant growth over the years, this is evident in the number of online platforms which enable people to transact online such as Uber, Amazon mechanical Turk, Air bnb and alike. These platforms generate large sets of data, which can play a crucial to understanding how work is carried out in the digital economy. However, the rise of applications such as Uber and Air bnb also pose a threat to the conventional alternatives. Uber for example is so disruptive and convenient that it removes the need of a conventional Taxi.
 
Air bnb on the other hand is so cheap and flexible, enabling a traveller to live with locals instead of staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast. Thus, provide greater experience for the traveller and enable locals to benefit from the tourism in their respective areas.
Social networks sites such as Facebook, Twitter and search engine giant (Google) have also joined the party, they have collected enormous amounts of data pertaining to job activities.
Users of these platforms can use this to search for new job openings in any city of their choice.
 
They can also inform each other about these jobs by tweeting about them. Big data is surely becoming a crucial component in the labour market research, because of its richness and diverseness. Moreover, technology will continue to rapidly advance, disrupting the status quo, influencing labour policies and providing fact based analysis to effectively address labour policy concerns.
 
 
*Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude) and currently pursuing MSc. Computer Science



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