We have heard a lot about the danger blue-collar jobs are in due to growth in automation and AI. But that’s the partial truth and not a situation that can’t be fixed. The truth is, a job is more likely to be automated if it entails repetitive tasks, however, if a job entails creativity and critical thinking, there are fewer chances it can be automated. But even if you are in a job that involves repetitive tasks, you don’t have to panic. With the right skills, you can manage to withhold your job vacancies or even better, excel at it. At this stage, Automation is not something we can really oppose. We can either fight it and go down or work with it and benefit immensely. This is not only true for the white-collar employees but also, and particularly, for the workers working in the blue-collar sector.
Digital Penetration in Tier II & III Cities of India
Thanks to Reliance Jio, India currently has the lowest broadband prices in the entire world.
Internet users in India have reached a new high of 627 million in 2019 and there has been witnessed a huge growth of internet users from Tier II & III cities as well.
Out of the above 627 million internet users, around 200 million users were from non-metropolitan areas, a great portion of what constitutes as blue-collar workers.
Telecom operators see potential as well and thus, have invested a lot recently in improving the broadband’s speed and data services in rural India. Traditional phone services are being replaced by more internet content services such as social networking, emails, information, and news. Cheap and affordable phones have given an opportunity to people of all economic status being connected to the internet, no matter where they live and what they do.
How Digital Penetration can Assist the Blue-Collar Jobs Sector?
With the launch of cheap and accessible 4G services like Reliance Jio, job seekers are now able to easily access modern-day, technology-driven platforms. According to a recent study conducted by FICCI, NASSCOM and Ernst & Young, known as the ‘Future of Jobs in India – A 2022 perspective’, it was found that 6% of India’s 600 million approximate workforces by 2022 would be employed in new jobs that do not currently exist.
This would comprise a significant portion of blue-collar workers such as app-based taxi drivers, contractual workers in the infrastructure sector, freelance workers on online platform models, service providers and delivery boys in the e-commerce ecosystem. And the good thing is that the internet surge and blue-collar workers finally getting access to widespread jobs, is being noticed by the corporates. Simplified and easy to use Job search apps have been introduced for thousands of these workers who are capable of accessing the internet now but don’t have much technical know-how skills to do so.
Their business model is feasible and quite simple. People looking for these kinds of jobs can either contact the company to make their resumes or submit directly. While they can apply for numerous of these jobs online for free, the employers have to pay a fixed amount for each job posting. This sudden interest in the blue-collar industry is not by chance. They have been reports to suggest that in the next few years demand for blue-collar jobs like drivers, maids, helpers, cooks are growing to see a vital increase in the country.
Potential of the Rise in Blue-Collar Jobs in India in the Coming Years
A recent report by BetterPlace- a platform that manages the flux of blue-collar workers for various corporates – states that around 21 lakh blue-collared jobs will be created in the country within the next 12 months due to the growth of several gigs and freelance jobs.
Out of the total estimated job growth, 14 lakhs is expected to be in the gig economy (jobs that are done on a contractual basis, not permanent employees). The logistics sector is expected to witness an addition of roughly 4 lakh jobs whereas the demand for drivers in the transportation sector is going to rise as well with an assumption of increase of 6 lakh jobs in the coming year.
In recent years, it has been seen that Gig-based jobs have become more attractive than the normal blue-collar job roles like security or working on a contractual basis with e-commerce employment websites as they offer higher flexibility in work hours and locations in addition to better incentives, according to the above report
Around 40 percent of the blue-collar job creation will take place in the southern states of India including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Telangana. As far the state-wise list is concerned, Maharashtra is expected to create more than 4 lakh jobs followed by Karnataka with an expectation of over 3 lakh jobs in this sector. Bangalore was cited as the largest job creator amidst other Tier 1 cities at 2,35, 000 jobs closely followed by Delhi at a projection of 2,25,000 jobs.
Hyderabad and Chennai were identified as emerging markets for blue-collar job growth while Kolkata lagged behind with a score of about 24000 jobs per year in spite of being on a growth track.
How Upskilling can Help Blue-Collar Workers?
Digitization of India have might lead to an increase in the demand for blue-collar workers, but they need the right skills to retain them. According to the estimates by the government, India’s working population which is skilled is less than 2 %. And that unskilled pool is from where numerous startups are hiring delivery boys, technicians, plumbers, drivers, and carpenters who can provide services to us consumers every day. The situation is worrisome but fixable. This is where upskilling can help us. Upskilling refers to the enhancement of skills of the workers, usually through training, to make them more suitable for their jobs. Let’s look at the various blue-collar jobs that would be in demand in the coming future and how can upskilling help the blue-collar workers employed in these sectors:
- Driving Jobs – Taxi-sharing apps are the real craze now. They are convenient, affordable and no longer only existing in the metropolitan cities. Companies like Ola and Uber are slowly making their way to Tier II and III cities of India.
The drivers of these taxi-sharing apps are paid handsomely and working for them is a great way to earn more but just knowing how to drive isn’t good enough. Since these apps are based online, drivers should also know how to operate the Internet. The driver based on a tier 3 city may not be as fluent with phones and the internet as a driver based in Tier 1 city. That’s why it’s important to train these drivers and to teach them more about the internet and technology.
- Delivery Jobs – Demand for delivery jobs, be it food, grocery or e-commerce delivery is much more than the availability. And that’s good news for blue-collar workers working in this sector as they get paid more. E-commerce companies are on the lookout for skilled delivery staff as competition grows immensely.
E-commerce companies like Flipkart and Amazon deliver their products to the most remote locations. Their expansion to Tier II, III cities and even the rural parts of the country implies the opening of various job opportunities in the field of delivery workers there. Training these delivery boys to have the necessary technical skills is the absolute necessity now. Just by learning more about technology and how phones and internet work, these blue-collar workers in even remote cities of India have a chance to get good jobs and raise their standards of living.
- Beautician Jobs – The task of finding a good beautician is certainly difficult. The good ones are either too expensive or too busy and the beautician’s with affordable rates have very bad quality. Beauty services at home are growing in demand. UrbanClap happens to be the biggest player in this field. And it’s highly beneficial for the beauticians as well. While working at the offline salons, they get only 15-20% of the billings and hence earn a monthly salary of only around Rs. 15,000, by working with UrbanClap, they get to earn anywhere between Rs. 50000 to 80000 as the company only keeps 15-20% of the billings and the rest is kept by the beauticians. But UrbanClap and other similar service providers wouldn’t just hire anyone. You need to not only have the right beautician skills but also be digitally sound to accept and handle requests on time. UrbanClap even recently partnered with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to provide training and certification courses to numerous service professionals, including beauty professionals.
- Plumbers, Technicians, Electricians – Home service apps are loved by people. They can access the services of plumbers, technicians, mechanics and electric and through their smartphones. Booking is done easily in no more than 5 minutes and you can call the help at the time of your convenience. The popularity of these apps has grown so much that they are slowly expanding their services to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. But are the blue-collar workers ready for these job opportunities yet? They might not be well-versed with the handling of phones and internet but if they want to land a well-paying job in this field, they certainly have to upskill themselves and get accustomed to using technology and use phones for more than just basic tasks like making calls and reading messages.
Government and Companies Taking Major Steps to Upskill the Blue-Collar Workers
The Indian Government recently launched the Skills India mission which is all about upskilling and reskilling the nation’s youth in some major fields of work. These fields include Virtual reality, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, Big data analytics and process automation. An upskill platform was also launched by PM Narendra Modi, known as FutureSkills, which aims to provide the requisite skills to the country’s workforce and create more jobs. And while the government has big plans for upskilling of blue-collar workers, companies are sharing the same enthusiasm as well. Naruto Suzuki signed a MoU with Uber to train drivers of the latter. The drivers will also be provided trained and provided skills which are necessary to operate on Uber’s platform. The aim is to train over 30000 Uber partner-riders in a span of 3 years.
Also, the world’s top professional networking site, Linkedin, which always focused on white-collar jobs, has now partnered with IL&FS Skills Development Corporation Ltd (IL&FS Skills) to train and upskill blue-collar workers in the country. “The growth in India is tremendous and the way we measure our success, the growth in India is extremely healthy. Moving into the blue-collar space is something we know we need to do to be successful here in India,” Linkedin co-founder, Allen Blue, claimed in an interview recently.
Due to the rapid growth of automation and AI, numerous blue-collar workers face an uncertain future unless they upskill or reskill themselves. The need for learning new skills is essential, so is the need to adapt to the recent changes. And this can’t be done by the corporates alone. They will train the workers but only to an extent. If the blue-collar workers, especially of Tier II, Tier III cities and rural areas really want to survive and retain their jobs, they need to enhance their skills because the jobs of the future would require more require more critical thinking, creativity and social skills.