The pandemic hit the Vietnamese economy and labour market hard. With inevitable lockdowns and social distancing, the job market has come to a standstill or even shrank. 31.8 million Vietnamese people aged 15 and over were negatively affected by COVID-19 in the forms of unemployment, staggered working hours, and income decrease, according to Vietnam’s General Statistics Office.

However, the country’s labour market has shown signs of a moderate recovery in the third quarter of 2020, especially with the rise of gig employment.

Gig jobs arising, especially in the food delivery sector

The gig economy has been here for a long time, but only when COVID-19 came around is it being embraced like never before.

Undoubtedly, food delivery is one of the most popular gig jobs. As more people are forced to stay indoors, online delivery has become a lifeline for people to purchase necessities from their homes’ comfort.

This results in greater demand for delivery drivers to accommodate such needs, thereby creating loads of gig employment opportunities. Many are now turning to part-time food delivery gigs for additional – or even primary – income during these unprecedented times. Surprisingly enough, women are making up increasing numbers of the delivery workforce.

Vietnamese women making inroads into food delivery

A recent International Labour Organisation study shows that most ASEAN countries saw a larger decline in working hours and employment for women than men due to COVID-19, and Vietnam was no exception.

The prolonged pandemic would further delay the return of women with children to the job market. All of the above explains why more and more women opt for food delivery as an alternate career option to make up for lost income.

Also Read: Making cross-border partnerships work within a Covid-19 reality

A spokesperson at the Vietnamese delivery startup Loship shares that the number of new female drivers signing up for their platform even more than double in the past year, particularly when COVID-19 took a heavy toll on Vietnamese women’s income.

“We are seeing an increase in drivers signing up for Loship, and a large percentage are women whose careers have been impacted by the pandemic. As a local food delivery startup, we aim to create more high-value jobs for Vietnamese women, fostering a culture of diversity and enabling livelihood opportunities across the country,” Loship CEO Trung Hoang Nguyen said.

The uptrend is likely to continue not only in Vietnam but globally as well. Amazon, Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart, or unicorn startup Swiggy are increasingly hiring women for two significant reasons, low attrition and higher retention.

At DoorDash, 55 per cent of the drivers are women, or women at US-based ride-sharing platform Lyft make up over a fifth of all drivers. This is all proof of the potential of women in this male-dominated industry, and how tech companies are continually creating many job opportunities for women.

Vo Thi Thanh Suong (Aunt Suong) is a typical female food-delivery worker in Vietnam. She has been part of Loship’s driver fleet for almost a year, ever since the start of the pandemic. Despite the age constraint, she excelled in some long-distance orders up to 30km from the city centre to the suburbs.

“I’m 60 years old, a woman, and still can drive. You’re never too old, or too weak, to try and work. As long as you’ve got a bike and you’re motivated, you’ve got something to give you some income and stability,” shared Aunt Suong.

Or, Truong Thi Hai Duong, who is also in her 60s, has worked as a Loship’s delivery-partner for almost a year. Since the pandemic outbreak, her work has been busier than before due to the increased customer demand. She averages 20 deliveries a day in the 9 AM to 6 PM shift and seems to be enjoying her job. “I enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the gig job. It allows me to focus on my family during the day and pick-up work where and when it best fits into my schedule,” she says.

Also Read: Understanding the economics of food delivery platforms

With more women aspiring to join the food delivery gig workforce, this employment trend could have a major impact on the future of the gig economy at large. And it’s likely to stay for the foreseeable future, especially when the job market is still struggling to get back to normal, and a number of traditional jobs are not coming back anytime soon.

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