Future of work is about pursuing your interests, dreams, passion: Sunil Dahiya, Executive V-P, Wadhwani Opportunity

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October 04, 2021 1:45 AM

"The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many people to reconsider their career paths."

04 Education lede 2There seems to be a decline in full-time job seekers, as young adults are increasingly opting for gig jobs

Wadhwani Opportunity empowers students to acquire, sustain and progress in family-supporting jobs by providing them on-demand, Al-enabled access to employability skills. Talking about the new world of work, Sunil Dahiya, executive vice-president, Wadhwani Opportunity at Wadhwani Foundation, shares with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary why young adults are shifting to side-hustles and freelancing, and why the return to physical office is fuelling ‘the great resignation’ phenomena. Excerpts:

When people use social media as a digital tool to learn new skills and/or start new businesses, do they need handholding? What kind of support can Wadhwani Foundation provide?
Yes, they need support, and we provide the same in terms of:
—Industry-led training of youth aligned with 21st century employability skills. This training covers the most crucial employability skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, digital skills, customer orientation, etc;
—Guiding early-growth and growth-stage start-ups by creating a business plan, investor pitch and supporting them towards a growth journey. Entrepreneurs are also connected with ecosystem enablers like venture capitalists, tech/HR/fin consultancies, etc, and provided with market linkages.

Do you expect a decline in full-time job seekers as students and young adults are apparently shifting to side-hustles, freelancing and entrepreneurship?
There seems to be a decline in full-time job seekers, as young adults are increasingly opting for gig jobs, side-hustles, freelancing and entrepreneurship. However, emerging technologies like AI, ML, big data, robotics, VR/AR, IoT are creating avenues for new types of jobs.

But is there data to prove that young adults are really shifting to side-hustles, freelancing and entrepreneurship?
Yes, there is ample data:
—A survey by freelance platform Upwork found that 20% of current employees—10 million people—are considering doing freelance work;
—Side-hustles are turning more and more professionals into part-time freelancers. A recent survey by FlexJobs found that 24% of the professionals surveyed combine freelance work and employment;
—Offices are reopening, but the return to the office is fuelling ‘the great resignation’ phenomena: 17% of professionals who were working remotely during the pandemic would probably or definitely consider looking for another job if they have to go back to the office;
—The ‘great resignation’ isn’t just about workers moving from one full-time job to another; 20% Americans, for instance, are considering freelancing. Among those, 73% cite the ability to work remote or flexibly as a reason.

Should Indian companies worry when young adults freelance for international companies (apparently, payments offered by global companies are higher as compared to what Indian companies offer)?
Indian companies should not be worried much, as India has an abundant talent pool to cater to all types of requirements. More businesses will want flexible staff, in the form of temporary or contract employees, as they allow the freedom to increase or decrease headcount as per short-term business needs.

Today, good Indian companies also offer competitive pay structures to attract and retain talent. Most businesses are desirous of focusing on staffing flexibility to optimise and allocate resources:
—About 23% of Indian healthcare and life sciences companies are willing to allow remote/flexible arrangements to lure good talent;
—In the BFSI space, 37% of companies are ready to offer remote working options to draw quality talent;
—A significant 46% of Indian e-commerce companies and 24% of property and construction firms are ready to offer flexibility to suitable talent;
—In the technology sector, 47% of companies are ready to offer remote/flexible work arrangements to attract quality talent.
As per a research conducted by Michael Page, employees prefer to have flexible work timings across the same workdays and total working hours. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ workplace or work model.

What advice would you offer to students on becoming financially independent at a young age?
The first advice for youngsters towards financial independence is to manage to live within their means. Secondly, youngsters should prioritise savings and start small investments. This can be achieved by inculcating the habit of budgeting. Young fellows can follow the 50-30-20 rule, wherein 50% of the income goes to basic needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings and investments.

Is it true that since the pandemic began, an increasing number of students are getting inclined towards pursuing their passion as a career (even though there is no guarantee that they will succeed)?
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many people to reconsider their career paths. The ‘standstill’ has given people the opportunity for thinking and internal realisation that one can pursue work that he/she is passionate about. People choose to pursue more meaningful work in their life when times get tough. Motivated people have learnt new skills, brought more purpose to their work, and many started new businesses. These shifts are a good indication that the ‘future of work’ may be about learning, pursuing interests and dream.

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