Rapid technological advancement and the impact of Information Communication Technology are changing our lives more quickly and more deeply than ever before imagined.
It is touching every facet of society, from social interaction, to political mobilization, to economic transactions. Today, globalization and progress in technology and information systems are bringing about long-term changes in the world economy that are altering the structure of the labor force, and are creating many new jobs and substantial new wealth.
This new economic impact of technological innovation is well known and documented in developed countries. However, the social and economic impact of technological innovation on the economies of the developing countries is equally visible and important.
Dynamic technological development and their innovative application through tools such as the mobile phone and the Internet are increasing access to the global economy and job opportunities by better linking employers and job-seekers and equipping individuals with necessary skills. Many are cost-effective, have the ability to reach a wide network of people globally, target the poor and disempowered, and introduce flexibility in seemingly rigid work practices.
Lack of coordination and unequal access to information in the labor markets of developing countries are often major hurdles for interested employers to identify and recruit qualified individuals with requisite education, skills, and experience.
While the demand for employment might exist - both in formal and informal sectors - access to this information might be limited to those who have a strong social network, employment information and personal reference. As a potential solution for better matching employers and job seekers, mobile phone users are now being used in some countries as a useful tool to connect job seekers with employers.
The principle behind mobile-phone based job matching service is simple yet innovative; better access to information helps young people find jobs, while also helping employers find staff that is an effective candidate for the job. It successfully creates an interactive and accessible job platform that reduces the cost and time of searching for jobs by providing real-time information to those heretofore excluded from such information. For employers, mobile phone based job matching can reduce recruiting time and cost, provide access to a greater number of qualified candidates, and allow for the hiring of people for entry level and low-skill level jobs.
Three functions of the mobile phone are mainly utilized in developing countries. These are; voice; SMS; and mobile application. Through a combination of these functions, mobile phones are used to collect relevant information of job seekers and employers and provide information and job notifications. Various registration methods, including calling, face-to-face, SMS and web are used to include as many job seekers as possible. Voice messages are particular useful for recruiting job seekers who have difficulties reading and writing.
Current efforts at utilizing mobile phones to better match job seekers with employment opportunities have had varied success. Success factors boil down to effective marketing, trust building, and broad based partnerships.
Challenges have included attracting a sufficient number of job seekers and employers, building trust among users, and ensuring adequate quality assurance of job seekers. To that end, organizations offer additional and customized services to meet the specific needs of local users, including interview, résumé writing, networking skills and training for job seekers, and access to special database for employers to assess job seekers further.
Lee-Roy Chetty holds a masters degree in media studies from the University of Cape Town and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A two-time recipient of the National Research Fund Scholarship, he is currently completing his PhD at UCT and an economics degree with Unisa.
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