Get your gig on

Gig workers carry out short-term contractual or project-based work as independent contractors for company’s clients and can be seen as an expansion of traditional freelance work or self-employed workers.   | Photo Credit: Feeepik

The 21st century gig economy require a diverse, trained, and available workforce that is adaptable and flexible by continuously enhancing skill levels. ‘Gig’,in this context, refers to a hyper-flexible way in which people can earn money according totheir time and convenience. Gig workers carry out short-term contractual or project-based work as independent contractors and can be seen as an expansion of traditional freelance work or self-employed workers.

India has over three million informal and thriving gig workers, such as contract workers in transport, logistics, construction, and home-based services, but COVID-19 has led to a surge in this commercial landscape. According to ASSOCHAM-India, the country’s gig economy will grow at a compounded annual rate of 17% to reach $455 billion by 2023 (ASSOCHAM- India) and has the potential to serve up to 90 million jobs in the non-farm sectors of India (around 30%), and transact over $ 250 billion in volume of work and contribute 1.25 % to India's gross domestic product (GDP) over the long term. Studies by BCG and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Report have shown that, in the short-medium term, nearly 24 million jobs in skilled, semi-skilled and shared services roles can be fulfilled by gig workers. More than half the jobs are driven by the demand for low-skilled, low-wage work in the construction and real estate, manufacturing and utilities, retail, transportation and logistics, and personal services sectors. Only around 30% require specialised skills and expertise services like freelance consulting, design, shared services such as marketing and IT.

In markets such as the U.S, Germany, Sweden, the U.K and Spain, gig work is treated as the primary source of income, while in countries such as India and Brazil, it is a secondary or alternative source of income. In the latter, the future trends of gig economy will include the emergence of new jobs and skills, widening gaps in available talent, changes in government regulation, and evolving attitudes toward work itself.

Role of higher education institutions

This leads us to the question of whether HEIs in India are preparing students for the future gig economy? If yes, then how can the study or practice of the gig economy be integrated into their curriculum and career services? Most HEIs and universities prepare their students to become full-time employees in full-time jobs. The following steps will help prepare students for the gig workforce:

First, teach the skillsets required to be a successful independent worker — negotiation, leadership and teamwork, time management and organising skills, decision-making and problem-solving, creative and critical thinking skills, and above all, the ability and willingness to learn.

Second, they must focus on development of soft skills such as communication, cooperation, self-control, perseverance, and other social and emotional skills that lead to success. Students must learn to adapt and build resilience to cope with uncertain times and thrive in the new disruptive world.

Third, they must expand career counselling services to focus on matching students’ dominant personality traits with the skillsets along with the type of job opportunities available in the developing markets.

Fourth, they must impart entrepreneurial skills so that students can showcase new business ideas, create innovative products and services and start new ventures. Graduates must be trained to generate new ideas, design new products, adopt disruptive technologies and gain patents for high-skilled contractual work.

Last, they can start short-term-skill based vocational courses through specific training programmes, and evolution of credit framework in construction and real estate, transportation and logistics, retail management, shared service management, design thinking and innovation, manufacturing and utilities.

The writer is Professor of Marketing and Dy. Director (Alumni Relations) at Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Noida India. The views expressed are personal

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 9:30:37 AM |

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