That the concept of ‘gig economy’ is finding more takers than ever, is not surprising news. However, a focussed study of how prevalent freelancing has become in the Indian economy, that too in the IT sector, presents interesting new information. A study conducted by Manipal Global Education sought to understand the rise of freelancers and part-time workers in the Indian tech industry. The highlights of the study, shared exclusively with The Times of India, a leading daily, are as follows:
- A dearth of people equipped in new-age technologies is allowing talent to become independent workers and offer their services to more than a single company, while earning significantly higher than a regular full-time job.
- India, with 15 million independent workers, is only second to USA, home to 60 million freelancers. The study attributes the explosive growth of freelancers to the rise of internet services and mobile phones in India.
- Despite making substantial efforts to re-skill their workforces, major IT firms are still finding it hard to fill positions that require new skills and expertise. According to estimations in the report, 65% of the professionals in the sector are struggling to improve and upgrade their skill and knowledge.
- The domains of fin-tech, health-tech, retail-tech, sales and analytics have an active strategy to hire freelancers, according to A P Ramabhadran, CEO, Professional Learning Unit, Manipal Global Education.
- The most common jobs that are given to freelancers pertain to the fields of data visualisation, data mining, digital marketing and social media. Ramabhadran has been quoted in the report, saying, “Specific areas like Google digital marketing, data science, analytics, Android and iOS app development programs are witnessing a significant shift towards individuals choosing to be entrepreneurs and freelancers.”
- The report takes information from Freelancer.com, a global platform for freelancers, to build its case. It says that Indian registered users stand at 5.3 million (20% of the total), much higher than 3.3 million users from USA. Over the past one year, most top projects awarded to Indians on the website include graphic and website design, PHP (programming language), search engine optimisation and internet marketing.
The news report also takes inputs from Thammaiah B, Indian Managing Director at Kelly Services, “In India, the gig economy used to be an extrapolation of temporary and contract employees. However, that is changing with the innovation required at IT companies demanding newer skills. You cannot have a single homogenous group of talent anymore in a team... The workforce of the current generation is not looking at a safety net. They are willing to take risks to work only on the projects that they want. They are also looking at a balance between work and life.” He also adds that presently, 2-3% of the workforce at large IT companies are freelancers, and this will increase tremendously over the course of next few years.
The report is an informative guide to understand the rising prevalence of freelancers and project-specific employees in the IT sector of the country. The rise of a temporary workforce, along with other sweeping changes as a result of automation and technical advancements will create a virtually new paradigm for a sector which employees millions of Indians.