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How digitalisation is empowering the blue-collar segment

Businesses are embracing digitalisation like never before. Be it education, agriculture, commerce etc., the impact of digitalisation is visible everywhere.

Digitalisation is more important than ever for the recruitment industry as well. Companies looking to hire competent individuals are using technology to make a huge difference in their recruitment process.

Some common technologies that are used by companies to make the recruitment process effective include virtual reality (VR) technology to enhance the candidate’s understanding about the new role. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are also being used to make the recruitment process more efficient.

India has over 300 million blue-collared workers, many of whom are part of the gig-economy, where they frequently shift jobs. This segment is growing with a decline in agricultural employment. The addition of around seven to eight million new college graduates to the workforce every year, 60 percent of which lack employability skills, is also adding to the growth of the segment.

Blue-collar workers in India lack awareness about job opportunities available in the market. They also lack the skills required to take up jobs. This often leads to their exploitation by middlemen or local agencies who charge them a fee, but never deliver on the promise of finding them suitable employment.

This is now set to change with the digitalisation of blue-collar recruitment. The segment is witnessing massive disruption by startups that are armed with technology-based platforms for hiring.

These platforms are democratising hiring in the blue-collar segment by empowering job seekers to access employment opportunities while enabling employers to hire at high velocity and lower cost.

Digital startups such as Vahan are using the power of AI and ML-based technology to automate the matching process between blue-collar jobs and job seekers. Such platforms are getting high traction as they are pivoted around apps such as WhatsApp that are ubiquitously popular among the SEC D&E workers and the simplicity with which they execute the entire process.

Moreover, the option to access the services of such platforms simply by chatting in local languages reduces the barrier to entry thereby maximising user adoption and engagement.

These digital hiring platforms not only help in generating candidate interest, they also provide document verification and background check services. This is in addition to employee engagement features such as scheduling interviews, employee query addressal and facilitating interaction with peers that help in reducing attrition rates.

One of the biggest challenges in the blue-collar hiring space is a three-way matching problem — finding the right intersection of what a job seeker wants to do, is capable of doing and the kind of jobs available in the market.

This three-way matching problem is effectively solved by digital platforms through a combination of cutting-edge product design, data and machine learning which help in finding the right fit for employers thereby reducing hiring costs.

Demand for blue-collar workers has gathered pace in the unlock phase of the COVID pandemic when business activity is fast recovering to near-normal levels. There is a big surge in demand for blue-collar workers from the ecommerce and logistics sectors followed by manufacturing, ancillary, and BPO sectors where the demand is back at 100 percent of pre-COVID levels.

The future of blue-collar work is likely to be dominated by gig economy jobs, where the skill requirement will not be extremely high, and workers will have the flexibility to work across various sectors based on their availability and skills.

The coming years are likely to witness increased employer preference for the outsourcing of the hiring function and management of their blue-collar manpower to drive efficiencies in businesses while catering to shifting market dynamics.

While this will give workers the opportunity to maximise their earnings, it will also result in lower job security as the availability of jobs will be dictated by demand which in turn can be very dynamic. In this context, a spurt in smartphone penetration and usage of the internet will further enhance the relevance of such platforms for their role in giving blue-collar workers a plethora of choices and make payment cycles instantaneous.

India’s humming economy needs manpower and digitalisation can solve this problem by connecting job providers to the right talent. The rapid adoption of technology by companies in the wake of COVID-19 to automate the hiring process and keep business running bodes well for the economy.

Technology can help blue-collar workers gain control of their economic destiny and bring much-needed dignity and empowerment to their lives.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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