Micro-work deal to create 1,000 jobs

Published: Wednesday | July 4, 2012 Comments 0
Minister of Industry Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton (left) meets with MobileWorks' Prayag Narula (centre), who is in charge of engineering and technology development, and CEO Anand Kulkarni on Monday. - CONTRIBUTED
Minister of Industry Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton (left) meets with MobileWorks' Prayag Narula (centre), who is in charge of engineering and technology development, and CEO Anand Kulkarni on Monday. - CONTRIBUTED

Jamaicans who can do work for minutes or hours each day from their personal computers or mobile phones are eligible for participation in the workforce being created locally by the California company MobileWorks in a deal brokered with the Jamaican Government.

The company, which says it "matches work with people who can do it", this week launched its crowdsourcing technology locally with the help of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.

The ministry said the partnership would result in at least 1,000 jobs for Jamaicans likely to earn money through 'micro-work' projects.

MobileWorks will not establish physical offices in Jamaica.

"This is not so much a company coming to Jamaica to make an investment. Instead, it is bringing technology which allows others to build applications and offer services," said Reginald Nugent, senior adviser to Industry Minster Anthony Hylton.

"The key is that it is willing to make available the platform and at the same time drive work to Jamaica. It is a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement which will tap into the workforce."

Current demand

Nugent also told Wednesday Business that the estimate of 1,000 full-time or part-time jobs, which the ministry has said will be created within three to six months, is based on the current demand for MobileWork's service.

"They can within a three-month period provide 1,000 and grow this over a three-year period to 10,000 jobs," he said.

To be successful, the micro-work project requires the seller of the service matching businesses or clients with the right expertise. But its greater priority is creating jobs for unused talent.

Nugent said there is already interest from several private-sector companies.

MobileWorks executives met Monday with ministry officials and later announced the partnership. The terms of the agreement were not spelled out, including the earning potential for micro-work participants.

"We do the research on both sides to ensure that the company offering the jobs is matched perfectly with the individual with the appropriate skill set who needs the job," said CEO of MobileWorks Anand Kularni in the joint press release.

"Where mega-projects exist, MobileWorks will disaggregate these projects into smaller more manageable elements of the job, which can be undertaken by IT-savvy individuals working in remote locations. This will mean that a company in New York which wants to do business in Jamaica can create the necessary application for the research to be carried out by teams in remote locations," the ministry added.

Nugent believes that with this partnership and other programmes being developed, Jamaica "could potentially become a global hub for micro-work".

As described in a review by scientists at the University of California, MobileWorks provides human optical character recognition tasks that can be completed by workers on low-end mobile phones through a web browser.

The technology divides documents into many small pieces and sends each piece to a different worker. Workers using the technology are said to average 120 tasks per hour at an accuracy rate of 99 per cent.

On its website, MobileWorks describes itself as engaged in "reinventing crowdsourcing" and as a "venture-backed company with a central social mission: using technology as a source of economic empowerment for underemployed and marginalised individuals around the world".

business@gleanerjm.com

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