Revisiting skills in the gig landscape
All professionals at some point feel the need for greater flexibility in their career path. Alongside maintaining one’s lifestyle and expenses, the aspirations for a better work-life balance also arise. In such situations, three factors make a great impact on one’s choice of employment.
- Work that is in accordance with one’s expertise
- Flexible working conditions as desired
- Remuneration that meets expectations
Gigs are a great opportunity for experienced professionals to offer their expert services to one or multiple employers on flexible terms. These could be temporary employment as consultants, on-call jobs, or independent work opportunities arising in various locations. However, it goes beyond the flexibility of schedules or the freedom to choose how much you want to work at a given point of time. More than 75% corporate houses will rely on these professionals to keep their businesses running, while those moving to the ‘other side’ will see a 6% growth in their numbers, and gig opportunities will keep rising. It is estimated that the overall gig economy will comprise nearly 40% of total employable population by 2020.
In a PayPal survey, about 38% respondents stated that they earn more as a gig worker compared to what they do in a full-time employment. About 23% of them were earning between 40 to 45 lakh rupees per annum, a figure at par with the salaries of senior management in a mid-sized Indian firm. Many gig workers also indicated the flexibility of timing as a key factor driving them towards gig employment.
Upskilling and reskilling
The opportunity is right there, but so is the ever-rising number of competitors for the coveted gigs on offer. The biggest enabler for a gig worker is the skill factor. Technology is making rapid strides in gig employment as much as any other sector. Trends, best practices, and the desired skills constantly keep changing. What worked in 2010, didn’t work in 2015, and what worked in 2015 is unlikely to work in 2020. As per World Economic Forum’s report titled ‘The Future of Jobs Report 2018’, by 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling. Of these, about 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, 9% will require reskilling lasting 6-12 months, while 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year. Skills are the product that a gig worker offers to prospective clients/employers. Hence, the newer the product, the more likely it is to sell. This makes it important to constantly acquire new skills to ensure that one is always on top of the game.
Companies globally are aware of the need to plug the skill gap. Thus outsourcing to skilled overseas professionals has emerged as a practical solution. It empowers them to outperform their rivals, boost earnings, provide better customer experience and speed-up the product and services development process. By acquiring relevant new skills, a gig worker can become a global resource. This would give him an opportunity to earn significantly more than what he used to earn earlier, without the newly acquired knowledge.
A major chunk of Indian gig workers comprises of software development and IT professionals. Hence, the need for constant skill acquisition becomes even more critical. The entire IT landscape is rapidly being dominated by ‘Cloud’ and ‘Analytics.’ Therefore, the acquisition of newer skills in this domain is likely to increase the chances of landing superior and better paying gigs. However, it is also important to consider the relevance and utility of a new skill to potential clients.
The dynamics of human resources are undergoing a rapid transformation thanks to technology and proliferation of gigs. The gig economy is rapidly expanding and will be the standard within the next decade or so. Integration of artificial intelligence and data analytics will make it more challenging for the specialists to land more projects. Lack of skills, as well as those acquired years ago, will not be of use to the gig workers. They need to arm and update themselves with the latest innovations and best practices in their respective domains. Having an aptitude for constant skill enhancement will certainly create the path for a ‘good work and good life’ as a gig worker.