Social and Impact
Demand surge in the blue-collar gig workers as the economy emerges from COVID-19 impact
14 Oct 2021

With an estimated 400 million blue-collar and 100 million white-collar workers in India, blue-collar jobs may involve both skilled and unskilled labor across sectors such as farming, construction, shipping, trucking, manufacturing, and excavation, among others. After the Ecommerce platforms gained significant traction due to the unmet demand of India’s urban and semi-urban populations. India has witnessed the emergence of several platforms which offer ‘work on-demand via apps’ like ride-hailing, food delivery, domestic and personal care services (beauty, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, etc), courier services, and others. These jobs are now prominently segregated as blue-collar intensive and the new age gig economy. The number is growing with the addition of around 7-8 million new college graduates to the workforce every year, more than 50 percent of which lack employability skills and end up joining blue and grey-collar specific jobs in the workforce. Blue-collar workers are largely employed in sectors such as retail, logistics, and delivery, and manufacturing.

As per our analysis, India is expected to witness an uptick of more than 50 percent for blue-collar workers. The demand will increase across urban and semi-urban cities as companies are looking to expand and penetrate with unmet demand. Blue-collar workers also see this opportunity to find new jobs in their hometowns locally. These workers, have a low learning curve and are easily employed with training from their respective employers. Also, the workers seemingly are quite adaptive to technology and leverage to find better employment prospects.

Verticals and sample job roles for blue and grey collar workforce

 Sample roles
 Retail (organized and unorganized)
  • Loading or helpers
  • Cash counter
 Transport, Logistics, and warehousing
  • Drivers
  • Loader or helpers
  • Packaging staff
 Beauty and wellness
  • Workers in salons, spas, etc.
  • Sales personnel 
 Private security services
  • Security guards
  • CCTV surveillance 
 Travel and Hospitality
  • Waiters, kitchen, and cleaning staff
  • Front desk executives, tour guides, etc. 
  • BPO and call center operatives

Source: Praxis insights

Online platforms, startups, and Governments are looking to solve unique problems pertaining to blue-collar workforce management, the major challenges to solve are education, employability, entrepreneurship, and empathy. Solutions uniquely look to provide the opportunity for society to evolve and improve on three key areas such as -

  1. Equal pay
  2. Gender equality
  3. Preventing the violation of human rights 

Several factors providing macroeconomic tailwinds to the growth of this sector are:

  • New Wage Code 2019 is providing a tailwind to implement new policies for the blue-collar workforce.
  • New-age gig-based businesses like food delivery are moving to tech-driven compliance and efficiencies in managing a distributed work environment.
  • Technological advancements across the blue-collar value chain via digitalization and machine learning are making it easier to attract funding in this sector over the past 12 months.
  • Favorable working conditions like higher income potential, financial independence, timely payments combined with low-cost internet and smartphones are major drivers of tech adoption amongst blue-collar workers tech adoption.

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology by employers looking at large-scale applications to make knowledgeable decisions through smarter data analytics to hire the best suitable candidate for the job, the blue-collar sector is evolving at a rapid pace in the gig economy with the surge in demand for talent and expanding the business in tier II and tier III cities.

Authored by

Lokesh Bohra, SVP, Social and Impact Advisory

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