BetterPlace, a full-stack technology platform for frontline workforce management, recently released its 2022 Index report showing that eight million frontline jobs were created in the country in FY22. The report went on to mention that while there is tremendous demand and ample supply of employable frontline and gig workers in the ecosystem, after a certain point their growth will be stunted due to a lack of digital and industry-specific skills.
“I started this job to support my family in an emergency situation with the idea that I will do this and continue my preparation for UPSC and get a better job or public service in a year. It’s been two years, one thing led to another and I’m still a delivery person,” said 24-year-old Shailesh Kumar while handing over a delivery package that read “Delivering Happiness” in bold black paint.
“App pe rating acchi de dijiyega please customers bhool jate hai ki humare liye kitni zaruri hoti hai vo (Please give a good rating in the app, customers often forget how important this is to us)” said Kumar while turning back to providing more “happiness”.
Gig workers are those who make their living outside of the traditional employer-employee arrangement. According to the NITI Aayog report, titled India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy, 2020-21, there are an estimated 7.7 million gig workers in India and it is expected to grow to 23.5 by 2029-30 Millions are growing, making them an integral part of the Indian workforce.
The focus of the youth is on gig working
Millions of the younger generation, just like Kumar, take on gigs to help deal with their financial woes or to make a quick buck, but with a stressful work environment and little to no opportunity for further education, they get stuck in a job that doesn’t they accepted because of helplessness.
Of the 4,070 people surveyed by CIIE.CO, over 2,000 respondents were aged 30 or younger. It was also noted that most of the respondents had worked on a gig economy platform as their first job. This is representative of young India, which sees the gig economy and its platforms as crucial sources of financial support and job opportunities.
“Gig working jobs offer flexibility that helps them (younger generation people who are just starting out) to consider multiple career options before having to decide on one by spending time understanding the education and the Acquiring skills required for the job that interests them among the many they are trying,” said Ujani Ghosh, Manager, Thought Leadership and Policy, IET India.
The survey also found that a good number of gig workers had college degrees. Of the 4,070 people, 653 reported having a bachelor’s degree, while another 1,125 had a high school degree.
Younger people, especially those on low incomes, are drawn to gigs offered by platforms like Uber and Swiggy as they offer short-term income opportunities. Although they keep them busy for long periods of time in a career with no long-term growth path.
“With the increasing demand for gig platforms, working on a gig platform has become a forced long-term commitment for those who are, rather than being short-term, temporary and optional forms of work with little or no employer control said Shalani Bhagat, a lawyer at the Supreme Court of India.
Most youth become gig workers with varying aspirations and then they stop them from changing jobs for primary reasons being the sole breadwinner in their family, having no other skills for a better job and working overtime on their current shifts , Bhagat added. who has worked locally to make gig workers a part of the Indian economy.
Upskilling for the needs of the hour
“You people don’t know how to do anything else, that’s why you’re doing this job, so at least do this job properly,” one man said as he drove his car away from 20-year-old Rajesh Yadav’s bike. who hit his car at an intersection.
“Humari kaun hi izzzat karega hum to ye aap logon ki tarah bade office mai kaam thodi karte hai (People don’t usually respect us because we don’t do company jobs),” said Yadav, a cyclist with a taxi app.
Kumar who migrated to Delhi from Begusarai, Bihar in 2021 to prepare for the engineering exams took a gig job to manage his finances now it’s almost a year ago and he couldn’t because of financial problems and workload not change and no opportunity for further training.
Ghosh emphasized that workers in the gig workforce must receive needs-based and market-relevant further training for the trend and future professions.
“While great interpersonal skills, networking skills, agility, critical thinking, and industry knowledge are important, it’s equally important to keep up to date with and plan to work with the role that technology and automation play,” he added.
As the world has changed, so has the scope of the gig economy. As gig workers upskill, acquiring 21st century skills such as communication, information literacy, technology literacy, creativity and critical thinking becomes critical.
CIIE.CO’s report indicates that upskilling gig workers can help adapt to market needs and thrive in and even emerge from the gig economy.
Upskilling gig workers also helps businesses grow as it helps them maintain their well-being, says Aditya Narayan Mishra – Managing Director and CEO of CIEL HR Services.
“We need to leverage these technologies to empower all of our employees, including gig workers, to achieve the best results. Because happy employees = happy customers and a more productive workplace,” said Mishra.
The way forward
The government and companies have been working to enable upskilling for gig workers. Policies like the Skill India Mission and India’s National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) have focused on it, and online food delivery platform Swiggy announced a skills initiative to offer free learning opportunities to thousands of delivery leaders and their children.
CIIE.CO recommends Gig platforms to provide privacy training to Gig employees and provide community learning management system-based learning on a dual-linked graph database that facilitates personalized learning paths.
According to Ghosh, it’s important for employers that gig workers are part of the team that can help shape the platforms to upskill workers, and their role should go beyond just digital matching.
“Workers should be provided with written contracts along with minimum wage protections. This would be particularly beneficial for the female workforce,” adds Ghosh.
According to BetterPlace, business outcomes skills, e-commerce skills, workplace efficiency skills and technology skills are the most in-demand skills among gig workers and should be prioritized by upskilling platforms, government and corporate initiatives
“Upskilling gig workers isn’t just about learning a new skill, for many it’s about gaining a new identity, gaining more respect, greater financial and spiritual well-being, so it’s about time to give it the importance it deserves,” said Bhagat.
First published: IS