Whenever we talk about how most service sector jobs will turn into gigs in the very near future, we get asked some derivative of the same question: but what about training? Can someone with no experience just start as a ‘barista’ or someone with ‘waiter’ experience work as a ‘sales rep’?
To answer the question, we dove into the data. It helps to have millions of jobseekers and applications (and a kick-ass data scientist on your team).
We analysed over 2 million jobseekers in Turkey and Mexico and over 8.5 million job applications to understand the ‘distance’ or dissimilarity between positions. How related or close is ‘waiter’ to a ‘quantum physicist’, a ‘nurse’ to ‘forklift operator’ or a ‘sales assistant’ to ‘call centre agent’?
First, we looked at people’s experiences. Of the people who have an experience as a ‘waiter’, what other positions do they list in their experiences? This is helpful because it shows you how easily you can switch from position X (say waiter) to position Y (say sales assistant or quantum physicist). If a high number of people worked both as a waiter and sales rep, it means one can easily go from one to the other. But if few people have 'waiter' and 'quantum physicist' on their profiles, it means it's tough for one to do the other's job.
Then, we looked at how companies view people with different experiences. We looked at the likelihood of getting shortlisted for position X given that you have experience in position Y. That tells us if a company is looking for a ‘waiter’ and the applicant has experience as ‘waiter’ or ‘nurse’ or ‘sales assistant’, what is the chance that each candidate will get shortlisted?
Finally, we looked at the distance of each position from having no experience. This shows us how easy it is to do job X with no experience.
We put all of these together into one somewhat-easy-to-read index we called ‘Experience similarity matrix’ seen below. It is a matrix of how close each row entry is to the column entry. The greener the color, the closer it is.
The chart is ranked by frequency of positions. This means that the positions at the very top right are the most frequent positions while the ones at top left and down right are the rarest ones.
What the chart shows is what we always claimed, what our clients and jobseekers always told us.
The most frequent (read high turnover) positions are extremely similar.
A waiter can quit his job and become a sales rep that day. A cashier can easily do a waiter’s job. A sales rep can go to a hand-packing job on the fly. This might seem intuitive but what the matrix shows you is much more granular than that. At the very top right hand corner, you see how easily people with no experience can do different jobs and much more.
In short, according to the data we accumulated within the last 5 years, if we exclude the high-end businesses that require client facing positions, the requirements for a huge number of business common positions are very interchangeable. This is what we have been hearing from our clients and jobseekers very frequently, but supporting with concrete evidence, makes us even more excited about the vast potential for our mission to “gigifying the service industry.”
If you would like to see the details of the data, please email me and I will send you the link for the html.
Always happy to discuss further.