Labour demand and supply to digital platforms increase in India: ILO

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 23, 2021 Published on February 23, 2021

Govts must come up with coherent, coordinated policies to ensure decent work opportunities on these platforms: Report

Covid-19 has impacted employment opportunities in digital labour platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Uber and Swiggy globally, but in India, both the demand and supply of work to these platforms have increased, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s World Employment and Social Outlook 2021.

The report asks governments around the world to come up with coherent and coordinated policies to ensure that these platforms provide decent work opportunities and foster the growth of sustainable businesses.

India tops the chart of labour suppliers in this category. The demand for work is mainly from developed world, but the supply of labour to these platforms is mainly from developing countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines and Ukraine.

The report said India’s share of total labour supply rose by about 8per cent between 2018 and 2020, while it declined in other developing countries, except Ukraine. The share of the supply of labour from the US has declined over the same period. “Given the large, highly educated English-speaking workforce in India, it is not surprising that the share of platform work completed by workers from that country is quite substantial,” the report said.

It said the high global demand for software development and technology has also led to an increase in the supply of labour for these tasks. “The rise in the share of total supply coming from India was driven by an increase in the share of labour supply in software-related tasks, which is consistent with the extensive offshoring of IT, BPO and software services to India,” it said. India has supplied a good number of labour to creative and multimedia services too.

Software development and tech

Both labour demand and labour supply increased in India from mid-March 2020 onwards, the report said. The increase in demand was driven by clerical and data entry, professional services, and software development and technology. It was 50 per cent higher than at the beginning of 2020. “The increased demand for software development and technology could be due to the need for software solutions that enable a smooth functioning of a remote working environment. The increase in demand for work across other occupations could be attributed to the declining revenues of companies, and it is possible that many firms or clients were considering these platforms as a substitute for on-site work,” the report added. The report highlighted a steep increase in the number of registered workers across all occupations, except for professional services.

The report said the participation of women on online web-based platforms is lowest in India (21 per cent), while it is higher in Ukraine (39 per cent) and the US(41 per cent). In India, the share of women across all occupations is lower even in occupations such as writing and translation, which are female dominated in many other countries.

The report said the costs and benefits of digital platforms are not shared equally across the world. “Ninety-six per cent of investments in such platforms are concentrated in Asia, North America and Europe. Seventy per cent of revenues are concentrated in just two countries, the US and China,” it said.

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Published on February 23, 2021
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