Bangladesh’s share of labour supply on digital platforms drops: ILO

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:05, Feb 23,2021


Bangladesh’s share of supply of labour on digital labour platforms declined in 2020 compared with 2018 although the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant switch to remote work and teleworking have led to an increase in demand for such work from mid-April to June 2020, according to a latest report of International Labour Organisation.

The report showed that the country’s share of the supply of labour on online web-based platforms declined by around 7 percentage points to around 12 per cent in 2020 from around 19 per cent in 2018.

The report titled ‘World Employment and Social Outlook 2021: The Role of Digital Labour Platforms in Transforming the World of Work’ was released on Tuesday.

The report showed that India’s share of the total supply on digital labour platforms rose by about 8 percentage points between 2018 and 2020 while it had declined in other developing countries.

The report classified the tasks performed on digital platforms into six categories, including software development and technology, creative and multimedia, writing and translation, clerical and data entry, sales and marketing support and professional services. 

Globally, a huge proportion of tasks are completed in the field of software development and technology, whose share increased from 39 per cent to 45 per cent between 2018 and 2020 but Bangladesh’s share in this category almost halved in the period, the report showed.

It showed that professional, and sales and marketing services had also gained in importance, whereas occupations such as creative and multimedia, writing and translation, and clerical and data entry tasks declined between 2018 and 2020.

Bangladesh’s share of the supply of labour in tasks related to creative and multimedia and writing and translation services, however, gained, the report showed.

‘The clients who demand such work are largely based in developed countries, with four of the top five countries belonging to this group. Globally, in 2020 about 40 per cent of the demand for such work was from clients based in the United States,’ the report said.

Compared to 2018, however, the share of demand for such work from the United States has declined while that from Australia, Canada, Germany, India and the United Kingdom has increased.

The disaggregation of demand for work by occupation and by country shows that software development and technology are the most sought-after occupations on these platforms across countries and share of demand in this field has increased worldwide between 2018 and 2020, with higher demand from clients in India compared to other countries, the ILO observed.

It also said that the share of demand for creative and multimedia, clerical and data entry, and writing and translation had declined in most countries, the largest decline observed in the United States.

‘As these recent trends relate to the period when the global economy is experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the  decline in the demand for such tasks may be due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic,’ the report read.

The report identified that in contrast to the demand for work, the supply of labour on these platforms originated mainly from a number of developing countries, in particular Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Ukraine, apart from the UK and the US.

Workers from India are the largest suppliers of global labour and the country’s share of total supply rose by about 8 percentage points between 2018 and 2020, the ILO report showed.

‘Given the large, highly educated English-speaking workforce in India, it is not surprising that the share of platform work completed by workers from that country is quite substantial,’ the report said.

The report, however, said that digital labour platforms had increased five-fold worldwide in the last decade and the growth had underlined the need for international policy dialogue and regulatory cooperation in order to provide decent work opportunities and foster the growth of sustainable businesses more consistently.

It said that the digital labour platforms were providing new work opportunities, including for women, persons with disabilities, young people and those marginalised in traditional labour markets, but working conditions, the regularity of work and income, and the lack of access to social protection, freedom of association and collective bargaining rights had emerged as new challenges for the platform workers.

ILO director general Guy Ryder emphasised on global social dialogue between the workers, employers and governments to address the new challenges.

‘All workers, regardless of employment status, need to be able to exercise their fundamental rights at work,’ he said.

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