system increasing substantially. There are 23 crore children in 13 lakh schools across the country today, thus registering a growth rate of around 14% as compared to the year 2002. Similarly the total number of enrolments in the higher education system has doubled from 8.4 million to around 17 million. With the increase in literacy and education levels, the aspirations of the youth to find suitable employment opportunities will further soar and whether digital economy is capable of creating or killing jobs is a moot question to rise.
Let us take a look at some of the models emerging out of ICT that are aimed at employment creation. The biggest opportunity for employment creation will be around the SMEs. According to McKinsey Global Institute, SMEs tend to create 2.6 jobs for every job displaced. For developing countries this effect is significantly higher, the ratio stands at 3.2. These SMEs are not just those who are connected with the ICT sector but others as well who are consumers of ICT. The opportunities for employment are therefore not only for IT specialists but for others who can support these SMEs with their specialised skills.
Online contracting is one of the emerging avenues of employment that can service these SMEs. It is similar to outsourcing but individuals directly participate in this form of activity. Apart from the large organisations who tap into these services, SMEs would have a need for such talent at low cost with geography and location being no constraint for sourcing. An estimated 2.5 million jobs were advertised in 2012 on sites such as Desk and Elance according to the World Bank publication ‘Connecting to Work’. While initially most of the jobs pertained to IT skills, the report says, as of July 2013, 50% of the jobs are non-technology related in areas requiring creative skills. The interesting aspect of online contracting is the access to global opportunities and the possibility of higher earnings than local alternate employment. While the initial draw for online contracting opportunities came from the mature markets, employers from India now post 9% of the opportunities on Freelancer.com.