‘Blue’ is the new ‘white’ in thriving ‘gig economy’

Venkatesh Ganesh Bengaluru | Updated on March 14, 2019

Even as “white collar” professionals are staring at job losses, “blue collar” occupations are seeing a surge. The most sought after jobs are that of drivers, delivery boys, security guards and housemaids, according to a report by Betterplace, a platform for blue-collar employees.

The report is based on a sample set of 1.1 million individual profiles, employed by 1,000 employers. It highlighted the growing influence of the ‘gig economy’ in comparison to traditional employment. The ‘gig economy’ refers to ‘on-demand’ jobs for a specific time period.

As infrastructure across India continues to be built, coupled with an increase in the number of start-ups that have created new categories of jobs, demand for services such as house-help and security has increased. According to Saurabh Tandon, COO and co-founder, Betterplace, of the total 2.1 million jobs in the blue-collar sector, 1.4 million are in the gig economy. Industry watchers attribute this to large amounts of funding and the growth of a new set of businesses, such as ride-hailing aggregators and food-tech companies. This is the first time Betterplace has collated this data, and hence, there is no comparison with past years.

High churn rate

In the blue-collar segment, demand for delivery boys is pegged at eight lakh, drivers at six lakh, and the need for security guards at 3.5 lakh. While the demand is strong, these jobs also see high attrition rates ranging between 40-300 per cent. “People switch jobs for a few hundred rupees,” stated Tandon. This can be largely due to low salaries, which start from ₹10,000. For example, people drawing salaries in the range of ₹15,000-25,000 have seen a 35 per cent attrition in 2018. “Higher minimum wages is a necessity to meet the burgeoning demand,” said Tandon.

Madhav Krishna, CEO and co-founder of Vahan, a talent management software company, said that sourcing the right talent at the appropriate cost is the key, more so for blue collar or frontline positions, for which hiring is done in large volumes.

Role of urbanisation

The report also breaks down the jobs geographically. Driven by urbanisation, Maharashtra tops the list, as it is expected to generate 4.1 lakh jobs; Karnataka follows with 3.09 lakh jobs with Delhi at 2.2 lakh jobs. Tier I cities still account for the lion’s share of job opportunities with Bengaluru topping the list with 2.35 lakh jobs. Tandon also believes that blue-collar jobs are set to grow at a pace that will be twice faster than the GDP rate in the immediate future.

Some in the industry, like Rituparna Chakravarti, co-founder, TeamLease and President, Indian Staffing Federation, believe that there is no such thing as a blue-collar job. “A driver in Ola earns more than an entry-level software engineer. Then can you term that [a driver’s job] a blue-collar one?” she asks.

Published on March 14, 2019

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