Gig Economy Project Ramping Up This Fall
Members of the Small Business Sector Deputy Sector Navigator Team
As the gig economy continues to grow, so too does a program designed to show California Community College students how to succeed in it.
Twenty-four community colleges from across the state submitted letters of interest over the summer to participate in the “Self-Employment Pathways in the Gig Economy” project. This 18 month long project is designed to help community colleges students secure gig work and earn a living wage, especially those who are underserved or those who need flexible work situations. The gig economy project is funded by $500,000 in Strong Workforce Program funding. All 24 colleges expressing interest have been chosen to take part in the pilot.
Funds will be used to provide faculty support to develop courses in areas like entrepreneurship and how to build a professional network. Courses proposed for the program include an introduction to entrepreneurship and an overview of the gig economy.
Colleges will participate in a Community of Practice to share best practices and curriculum around the following three core areas. First, colleges will either develop or modify existing Intro to Business/Entrepreneurship courses that can help freelancers and independent contractors learn the basics of small business management. Second, colleges will develop and offer a class on how to launch and secure work in the gig economy through the various online platforms matching freelancers with people and companies that have jobs they need performed. And the third component of the program will involve experiential learning such as having students enroll in a work-study/internship program on campus and build their business profile in an online platform to offer their services. Launch coaches/mentors will be made available to students for this phase of the project to help them launch their businesses in the gig economy.
A combination of completer/leaver surveys and data sharing agreements will be used to capture the student self-employment outcomes resulting from the project. A longer term goal will be to capture Franchise Tax Board data and upload it into the LaunchBoard data tool so that student earnings can be then be reported by college, by region, type of gig, or other variables. Molly Stuart, Deputy Sector Navigator for Small Business in the North and East Bays highlights the significance of this. “This marks the first time that self-employment data will be available in a large scale to the California Community College system. Because the self-employed do not earn “wages” nor become “employed” it has historically been difficult for college entrepreneurship training to measure its impact on key measures of well-being – increased earnings, living wages, work in the field of interest/study. We now have the opportunity to see the success of these self-employed students.”
A training session and kick off meeting for the participating colleges will be held September 8 at College of the Canyons.
The pilot is expected to conclude in December 2018, when final reports will help show the greater earning potential of participating students.