Rise of blue-collar gig jobs: The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of the gig working model

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September 06, 2021 2:45 AM

Citing the BCG report ‘Unlocking the Potential of the Gig Economy in India’, Kapoor said 2.4 crore new jobs could get created in the gig blue-colour space, and by 2028 this could reach around 9 crore jobs.

Nilabh Kapoor, business head, OLX PeopleNilabh Kapoor, business head, OLX People

Last month’s ‘BetterPlace Blue-Collar Report 2021’ noted that, as the Indian economy emerges from the lockdowns, there is likely to be more than a 50% rise in the demand for blue-collar workers across the industrialised states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The report added that as many as 70 lakh blue-collar jobs are likely to be created in 2021.

Nilabh Kapoor, business head, OLX People—a platform that offers end-to-end recruitment solutions to employers, consultancies, job-seekers and corporates—told FE that if you add the ‘gig’ aspect to this, the number of new jobs getting created could be many times this projection.

Blue-collar gig workers
Citing the BCG report ‘Unlocking the Potential of the Gig Economy in India’, Kapoor said 2.4 crore new jobs could get created in the gig blue-colour space, and by 2028 this could reach around 9 crore jobs. “The biggest job generators in the gig blue-collar space right now are e-commerce and logistics. But we are also seeing green shoots in retail, healthcare, homes services and fintech,” he said. “The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of this kind of working model (gig).”

Gig workers are independent contractors or freelancers who do short-term work for multiple clients. They can be classified as part of the broader gig economy, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.”

Kapoor, however, added that the two areas that will take long to recover are hospitality and entertainment, “even though these two segments are also increasingly adopting the gig economy model.”

Entry-level white-collar jobs
As far as entry-level white collar employment is concerned, Kapoor said that information technology (IT) has emerged as a major job creator.

“Work-from-home, corporates employing a lot of digital tools in their day-to-day operations, and start-ups turning their focus to smaller cities are among the reasons for this job surge,” he said. “Another reason that IT companies are employing more and more entry-level workers is that banking and especially fintech and insurance players are trying to tap the bottom of the pyramid, and this requires a lot of digital intervention.”

Corporates, start-ups, banking, fintech and insurance players are major customers of the software and services solutions developed by IT companies, and the latter are hiring more workers for the development of such software solutions.

While Kapoor said that he foresees an increasing demand for entry-level white-collar workers in the healthcare segment also, the problem there is that of supply. “Some or the other kind of (technical) certification is needed to enter into the healthcare space,” he said. “While the demand for entry-level white-collar workers is increasing in the healthcare segment, supply of talented workforce may be an issue in the short term.”

Impact of AI on jobs
Some recent reports have argued that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) may take away certain entry-level jobs, as AI and ML can do repetitive and mundane tasks more cost-effectively than humans do.

“Within the recruitment space, a lot of repetitive tasks (screening of candidates) are being done by AI and ML tools,” he said. “But I have seen that this is making the HR personnel upskill themselves, like learning to better understand cognitive skills and specific personality nuances of candidates, and have repurposed themselves to higher-order jobs, becoming more productive for the organisation.”

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