LinkedIn India has forayed into the blue-collar jobs marketplace as it sees a huge pent up demand in this segment.

The networking technology provider is eyeing this segment with an intent to look at the 100-million urban workforce doing jobs ranging from plumbers, bartenders, masons, amongst others. “We are looking to expand beyond skilling the knowledge worker,” said Akshay Kothari, Country Manager. He added that as a part of this strategy, LinkedIn has partnered with IL&FS Skills Development, to help upskill the blue-collar workers and job seekers in the country and improve their employability at a time when hiring amongst corporates is looking bleak.

As a part of this initiative, IL&FS Skills will continue to design and provide skilling modules and training and LinkedIn will help the participants find a job, like a matchmaker. “With technology we can identify for example, where contractors can get labour for specific jobs,” opined Kothari. For example, a construction contractor from Bihar can find workers in Bidadi. LinkedIn stated that at any point in time around 5.5 lakh jobs are up for grabs on its platform, and has 42 million users.

Job seekers will use the LinkedIn platform to create their profile, access learning content, build their network and get a job. Initially, 400 people will get trained in the hospitality sector and Kothari added that this will soon be extended to other sectors. According to Ryan Roslansky, Head of Product, LinkedIn, with every business getting disrupted in some form, due to rapid technology, blue-collar workers need to be upskilled at every juncture.

Industry watchers view this with some positivity but exercise caution. “LinkedIn should follow a different format in terms of engaging with blue collar workers as English may not be the preferred language,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, Founder CEO, HeadHunters India.

LinkedIn has to do a lot of ground work, which includes creating awareness and creating a database of these professionals, which generally is in small diaries of contractors, said a CEO of a staffing company.

Others opine that LinkedIn has to look at acquisitions if it is serious about making a dent in this market, which is dominated by established players like TeamLease, Quess, Adecco and start-ups like Quikr, which has made a foray into this vertical by acquiring Babajobs and Hiree.

However, the market is still ripe if one goes by the numbers. In addition to technology, which has created 10 million indirect jobs, the automotive sector employs a similar number — both directly and indirectly. Further, it is expected to more than double to 25 million workers in the next 10 years, according to the Automotive Mission Plan 2006-16.

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