The Movement Control Order (MCO) that triggered the new norms of social distancing, working from home, virtual learning and massive online shopping have given rise not only to the rapid development of the gig economy but also creating new services and opportunities.
One of the opportunities is childcare services, which is a lucrative business due to high demand especially from frontliners who needed someone with expertise to take care of their offspring.
Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist, Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the MCO has presented many business opportunities as these frontline parents would have to work extra-long hours and the social distancing measures would require them to keep a distance from their children.
“I think its lucrative business as the Malaysian population is growing and it has a young population.
“But it has to be reliable and trustworthy. Otherwise, it would be tough to get business with parents resorting to their immediate family,” he told Bernama.
Furthermore, Afzanizam said childcare services would have to be highly-skilled in order to be sustainable.
“Getting the right accreditation would certainly help elevate their credentials and professional standard.
“Degree in early childhood education or academic qualification for taking care of autistic children are some of the areas that will boost their credibility,” he added.
Among the platform offering professional childcare services is “Kiddocare” whereby it provides private childcare assistance to improve the existing gap and problems in the childcare industry.
It's a platform akin to Grab or Uber but for professional childcare services, whereby carers would go to respective houses to provide private childcare assistance.
It is made up of Malaysian women aged 18 and above who have undergone basic childcare training, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Safety Aid training.
Many of them also hold certificates in Early Childhood Education as well have been vetted in terms of health and safety before joining Kiddocare.
Kiddocare founder and chief executive officer, Nadira Yusoff said the demand for childcare services has been overwhelming not just from the healthcare frontliners but also workers from other essential sectors and those working from home during the MCO.
To date, 80 carers have served the need for childcare services, mainly from healthcare frontliners, giving them peace of mind by providing more than 500 service sessions that have benefitted about 90 children.
She said all carers work on a gig-economy model which allow women who have to juggle family obligations and work, the flexibility of managing their time and income.
“Kiddocare views this as a good entry into entrepreneurship, as it complements our on-going carer development programme and grooming them to become entrepreneurs in childcare,” she said.
Besides, Nadira said this model also works for those whose jobs have been displaced, due to the impact of COVID-19 on certain industries.
“Six of carers have joined us as temporary carers. All currently active carers are encouraged to venture as virtual-carers and learning facilitators, while they look for new opportunities in their core sectors.
“But allowing them to experience working under Kiddocare’s platform, on a gig-model, may open up new opportunities to progress in the childcare and education sector,” she added.
Meanwhile, Afzanizam said while the contribution of gig-workers during the MCO is significant as it allows the economy to continue being in operation, it nevertheless also have disadvantages in terms of being seasonal.
In the short term, it offers an income stream at a time when other jobs have become so limited, but once the MCO is lifted and lives return to normal, the demand for their services will drop.
“In the long run, one has to think about their own social safety net. They need to have long term savings such as Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and insurance like Social Security Organisation (SOCSO).
“So gig economies have to have a formal arrangement so that their welfare may not be worse off compared to their other counterparts,” he added.