Gig economy changing face of workforce in India
Dimapur, June 27 (EMN): The rise of the gig economy in India is changing the face of its workforce. The current estimation for gig economy jobs in India is at 8 to 18 million, which is projected to increase to over 90 million jobs in the non-farm sector in the next eight to ten years, revealed a NITI Aayog report on ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’.
The NITI Aayog launched the report titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’ on Monday. The report was released by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Suman Bery, CEO Amitabh Kant and Special Secretary Dr. K Rajeswara Rao.
According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment statement in 2020, a gig worker is a person who engages in income-earning activities outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship, as well as in the informal sector. When gig workers use platforms i.e., websites or apps like Ola, Uber, Zomato, Swiggy or Urban Company to connect with customers, they are called platform workers.
The report is a first-of-its-kind study that presents comprehensive perspectives and recommendations on the gig–platform economy in India. It highlights the opportunities and challenges of this emerging sector and presents global best practices on initiatives for social security and delineates strategies for skill development and job creation for different categories of workers in the sector.
The report elucidated that for India, four industry sectors can be identified as the ones with the highest potential to produce “gigable” jobs in the future that includes construction, manufacturing, retail, and transportation and logistics. These sectors are together expected to accommodate over 70 million of the potentially “gigable” jobs in the future, it maintained.
“In India, the total digital transaction volume had increased to INR 4,371 crore from 3,412 crore in 2019-20. At the same time, the value of digital transactions made through the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) system alone doubled from INR 21, 31,730 crore in 2019-2020 to INR 41, 03,658 crore in 2020-2021 (RBI, 2021)”, it said.
In terms of industrial classification, about 26.6 lakh gig workers were involved in retail trade and sales, and about 1.3 million were in the transportation sector. About 6.2 lakh were in the manufacturing and another 6.3 lakh in the finance and insurance activities.
The report in its recommendations for the government, civil society, allied businesses, and nonprofits suggested to ensure universal coverage of platform workers through the code on social security; bridge skill gaps by carrying out periodic assessments and partnering with platform businesses for on boarding skilled women and PwDs; reach out to unbanked and under banked women and PwDs through FinTech services; incentivise inclusive businesses– women led-platforms or platforms that encourage recruitment of women employees and those with disabilities; and make aggregate data publicly available to enable robust decision-making by the ecosystem.
Few of the suggestions for social security for gig and platform workers in India listed in the report were paid sick leave, health access and insurance; occupational disease and work accident insurance; retirement/pension plans and other contingency benefit; support to workers in a situation of irregularity of work; and contingency cover out of a corpus fund.
Accelerate skills training for women, PwDs
The report further emphasised on promoting skill training and providing placement support to women and Persons with Disabilities(PwDs), particularly in rural areas, smaller towns, and cities which can encourage them to take up platform jobs.
“A greater thrust to training for skills relevant for platform work can be given through Government schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Jan Shikshan Sansthan, and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY). Long-term skill training programmes through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) can also supplement these efforts. MoUs between the government and platform businesses could also incentivise training for marginalised groups, securing them livelihood opportunities in the platform economy”, the report suggested.
However, due to socio-cultural reasons more women than men and more PwDs than non-disabled are deprived of access to the internet, smartphones and digital literacy. This may prevent them from obtaining access to livelihood opportunities in the platform economy, it said. Thus, policy initiatives that promote access to digital education and internet for women and PwDs are critical in providing equal opportunities for all.
Gender inequalities in access to digital technology
The report further suggested that even though the gig economy, with the wide variety of employment options it offers, it is accessible to all those who are willing to engage in such employment, but access to internet services and digital technology can be a restrictive factor.
Significantly, data suggested that women’s access to internet and to smartphones was much lower than men in both urban and rural areas. According to the ‘GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report 2021’, only 25 per cent women owned smart phones compared to 41 per cent men in India in the year 2020. While these figures represent a considerable increase from the previous year when only 14 per cent women compared to 37 per cent men owned a smart phone, the difference of ownership between men and women still remains stark (GSMA 2021), it added.