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  • Translator: Timothy Covell Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • This is about a hidden corner of the labor market.

  • It's the world of people who need to work ultra-flexibly,

  • if they're to work at all.

  • So think, for instance,

  • of someone who has a recurring but unpredictable medical condition,

  • or somebody who's caring for a dependent adult,

  • or a parent with complex child care needs.

  • Their availability for work can be such that it's,

  • "A few hours today.

  • Maybe I can work tomorrow, but I don't know if and when yet."

  • And it's extraordinarily difficult for these people

  • to find the work that they so often need very badly.

  • Which is a tragedy because there are employers

  • who can use pools of very flexible local people

  • booked completely ad hoc around when that person wants to work.

  • Imagine that you run a cafe.

  • It's mid-morning, the place is filling up.

  • You're going to have a busy lunchtime rush.

  • If you could get two extra workers for 90 minutes

  • to start in an hour's time,

  • you'd do it, but they'd have to be reliable, inducted in how your cafe works.

  • They'd have to be available at very competitive rates.

  • They'd have to be bookable in about the next minute.

  • In reality, no recruitment agency wants to handle that sort of business,

  • so you are going to muddle by, understaffed.

  • And it's not just caterers, it's hoteliers, it's retailers,

  • it's anyone who provides services to the public or businesses.

  • There's all sorts of organizations that can use these pools of very flexible people,

  • possibly already once they've been inducted.

  • At this level of the labor market,

  • what you need is a marketplace for spare hours.

  • They do exist. Here's how they work.

  • So in this example, a distribution company has said,

  • we've got a rush order that we've got to get out of the warehouse tomorrow morning.

  • Show us everyone who's available.

  • It's found 31 workers.

  • Everybody on this screen is genuinely available at those specific hours tomorrow.

  • They're all contactable in time for this booking.

  • They've all defined the terms on which they will accept bookings.

  • And this booking is within all the parameters for each individual.

  • And they would all be legally compliant by doing this booking.

  • Of course, they're all trained to work in warehouses.

  • You can select as many of them as you want.

  • They're from multiple agencies.

  • It's calculated the charge rate for each person for this specific booking.

  • And it's monitoring their reliability.

  • The people on the top row are the provenly reliable ones.

  • They're likely to be more expensive.

  • In an alternative view of this pool of local, very flexible people,

  • here's a market research company,

  • and it's inducted maybe 25 local people in how to do street interviewing.

  • And they've got a new campaign. They want to run it next week.

  • And they're looking at how many of the people they've inducted

  • are available each hour next week.

  • And they'll then decide when to do their street interviews.

  • But is there more that could be done

  • for this corner of the labor market?

  • Because right now there are so many people

  • who need whatever economic opportunity they can get.

  • Let's make it personal.

  • Imagine that a young woman -- base of the economic pyramid,

  • very little prospect of getting a job --

  • what economic activity could she theoretically engage in?

  • Well, she might be willing to work odd hours

  • in a call center, in a reception area, in a mail room.

  • She may be interested in providing local services to her community:

  • babysitting, local deliveries, pet care.

  • She may have possessions that she would like to trade

  • at times she doesn't need them.

  • So she might have a sofa bed in her front room that she would like to let out.

  • She might have a bike, a video games console she only uses occasionally.

  • And you're probably thinking -- because you're all very web-aware --

  • yes, and we're in the era of collaborative consumption,

  • so she can go online and do all this.

  • She can go to Airbnb to list her sofa bed,

  • she can go to TaskRabbit.com and say, "I want to do local deliveries," and so on.

  • These are good sites, but I believe we can go a step further.

  • And the key to that is a philosophy that we call modern markets for all.

  • Markets have changed beyond recognition in the last 20 years,

  • but only for organizations at the top of the economy.

  • If you're a Wall Street trader, you now take it for granted

  • that you sell your financial assets in a system of markets

  • that identifies the most profitable opportunities for you in real time,

  • executes on that in microseconds within the boundaries you've set.

  • It analyzes supply and demand and pricing

  • and tells you where your next wave of opportunities are coming from.

  • It manages counterparty risk in incredibly sophisticated ways.

  • It's all extremely low overhead.

  • What have we gained at the bottom of the economy

  • in terms of markets in the last 20 years?

  • Basically classified adverts with a search facility.

  • So why do we have this disparity

  • between these incredibly sophisticated markets at the top of the economy

  • that are increasingly sucking more and more activity and resource

  • out of the main economy into this rarefied level of trading,

  • and what the rest of us have?

  • A modern market is more than a website;

  • it's a web of interoperable marketplaces,

  • back office mechanisms, regulatory regimes,

  • settlement mechanisms, liquidity sources and so on.

  • And when a Wall Street trader comes into work in the morning,

  • she does not write a listing for every financial derivative she wants to sell today

  • and then post that listing on multiple websites

  • and wait for potential buyers to get in touch

  • and start negotiating the terms on which she might trade.

  • In the early days of this modern markets technology,

  • the financial institutions worked out

  • how they could leverage their buying power, their back office processes,

  • their relationships, their networks

  • to shape these new markets that would create all this new activity.

  • They asked governments for supporting regulatory regimes,

  • and in a lot of cases they got it.

  • But throughout the economy,

  • there are facilities that could likewise leverage

  • a new generation of markets

  • for the benefit of all of us.

  • And those facilities --

  • I'm talking about things like the mechanisms that prove our identity,

  • the licensing authorities

  • that know what each of us is allowed to do legally at any given time,

  • the processes by which we resolve disputes through official channels.

  • These mechanisms, these facilities

  • are not in the gift of Craigslist or Gumtree or Yahoo,

  • they're controlled by the state.

  • And the policymakers who sit on top of them

  • are, I suggest, simply not thinking about how those facilities could be used

  • to underpin a whole new era of markets.

  • Like everyone else, those policymakers are taking it for granted

  • that modern markets are the preserve

  • of organizations powerful enough to create them for themselves.

  • Suppose we stopped taking that for granted.

  • Suppose tomorrow morning the prime minister of Britain or the president of the U.S.,

  • or the leader of any other developed nation,

  • woke up and said, "I'm never going to be able to create

  • all the jobs I need in the current climate.

  • I have got to focus on whatever economic opportunity I can get to my citizens.

  • And for that they have to be able to access state-of-the-art markets.

  • How do I make that happen?"

  • And I think I can see a few eyes rolling.

  • Politicians in a big, complex, sophisticated I.T. project?

  • Oh, that's going to be a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Not necessarily.

  • There is a precedent for technology-enabled service

  • that has been initiated by politicians in multiple countries

  • and has been hugely successful:

  • national lotteries.

  • Let's take Britain as an example.

  • Our government didn't design the national lottery,

  • it didn't fund the national lottery, it doesn't operate the national lottery.

  • It simply passed the National Lottery Act and this is what followed.

  • This act defines what a national lottery will look like.

  • It specifies certain benefits

  • that the state can uniquely bestow on the operators.

  • And it puts some obligations on those operators.

  • In terms of spreading gambling activity to the masses,

  • this was an unqualified success.

  • But let's suppose that our aim

  • is to bring new economic activity to the base of the pyramid.

  • Could we use the same model?

  • I believe we could.

  • So imagine that policymakers outlined a facility.

  • Let's call it national e-markets, NEMs for short.

  • Think of it as a regulated public utility.

  • So it's on a par with the water supply or the road network.

  • And it's a series of markets for low-level trade

  • that can be fulfilled by a person or a small company.

  • And government has certain benefits

  • it can uniquely bestow on these markets.

  • It's about public spending going through these markets

  • to buy public services at the local level.

  • It's about interfacing these markets

  • direct into the highest official channels in the land.

  • It's about enshrining government's role as a publicist for these markets.

  • It's about deregulating some sectors

  • so that local people can enter them.

  • So, taxi journeys might be one example.

  • And there are certain obligations that should go with those benefits

  • to be placed on the operators,

  • and the key one is, of course,

  • that the operators pay for everything,

  • including all the interfacing into the public sector.

  • So imagine that the operators make their return

  • by building a percentage markup into each transaction.

  • Imagine that there's a concession period

  • defined of maybe 15 years

  • in which they can take all these benefits and run with them.

  • And imagine that the consortia who bid to run it are told,

  • whoever comes in at the lowest percentage markup on each transaction

  • to fund the whole thing

  • will get the deal.

  • So government then exits the frame.

  • This is now in the hands of the consortium.

  • Either they are going to unlock an awful lot of economic opportunity

  • and make a percentage on all of it

  • or it's all going to crash and burn,

  • which is tough on their shareholders.

  • It doesn't bother the taxpayer necessarily.

  • And there would be no constraints on alternative markets.

  • So this would just be one more choice

  • among millions of Internet forums.

  • But it could be very different,

  • because having access to those state-backed facilities

  • could incentivize this consortium

  • to seriously invest in the service.

  • Because they would have to get a lot of these small transactions going

  • to start making their return.

  • So we're talking about sectors like home hair care,

  • the hire of toys, farm work,

  • hire of clothes even, meals delivered to your door,

  • services for tourists, home care.

  • This would be a world of very small trades, but very well-informed,

  • because national e-markets will deliver data.

  • So this is a local person

  • potentially deciding whether to enter the babysitting market.

  • And they might be aware that they would have to fund vetting and training

  • if they wanted to go into that market.

  • They'd have to do assessment interviews with local parents

  • who wanted a pool of babysitters.

  • Is it worth their while?

  • Should they be looking at other sectors?

  • Should they be moving to another part of the country

  • where there's a shortage of babysitters?

  • This kind of data can become routine.

  • And this data can be used by investors.

  • So if there's a problem with a shortage of babysitters in some parts of the country

  • and the problem is nobody can afford the vetting and training,

  • an investor can pay for it

  • and the system will tithe back the enhanced earnings of the individuals

  • for maybe the next two years.

  • This is a world of atomized capitalism.

  • So it's small trades by small people,

  • but it's very informed, safe, convenient, low-overhead and immediate.

  • Some rough research suggests this could unlock

  • around 100 million pounds' worth a day of new economic activity

  • in a country the size of the U.K.

  • Does that sound improbable to you?

  • That's what a lot of people said about turbo trading

  • in financial exchanges 20 years ago.

  • Do not underestimate the transformative power

  • of truly modern markets.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Translator: Timothy Covell Reviewer: Morton Bast

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【TED】Wingham Rowan: A new kind of job market (Wingham Rowan: A new kind of job market)

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