Bringing Physical and Digital Worlds together: Enabling India’s Demographic Dividend
By Manoj Chugh, President – Group Public Affairs and Member, Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra
Sanjay worked with us for many years. We encouraged him to go to school, in the years he helped us with our household chores. His big dream was to land up with a respectable job with a firm, one day. He was sincere, hardworking and had a keen eye and sense for all things, electrical and mechanical, though he had no formal training. He would help the electricians, internet providers and plumbers who came home to fix things. Over time, he took to social media and was soon on Facebook.
Many in our country, like Sanjay yearn for a respectable formal role. As we look around at Blue collar jobs, the first images that come to our mind are that of a factory worker, house keeping staff, an electric repair man, someone on a sewing machine or a carpenter. Interestingly, there are many more profiles that qualify as blue collar workers.
The most familiar sight in urban India during the pandemic has been that of delivery boys. Oops, here goes the door bell again! Imagine what would happen if healthcare staff in hospitals were not there or there was no one to collect blood samples. These are many blue collar workers protecting us, serving us and saving us.
Just as a factoid, India employs 30 to 35 crore blue collar workers each year in over 40 different industries and in over a 100 different job roles, ranging from a factory worker to an agriculturist, from a delivery boy to a mobile repairer, a mason and plumber at construction sites to a crane operator, a graphic designer to an admin in an office amongst many more. Less fortunate sections of our society who could not complete their formal education can perhaps finally look forward to a decent income and a respectable job.
Are things really so rosy? If so, why is it that Sanjay and others like him struggle? The challenges stare us in the face. The problem begins with a clear lack of understanding of the various job roles that can enable a decent income. The access to training schools that can prepare our youth for employable roles, of their choice, eventually helping them get a suitable placement is limited. Not surprisingly, many who get trained do not get hired and are left with limited options to fend for themselves. Opportunistic small time job consultants or contractors end up exploiting them. The industry’s employment practices also leave a lot to be desired resulting in high attrition.
Technology has enabled the mushrooming of job platforms for blue collar jobs but they provide limited help. Many of them just agglomerate databases, enabling limited outcomes. Technology has to offer a solution that is scalable and efficient. It has to span, both the physical and digital worlds and provide a seamless experience to all key stakeholders to ultimately enable job seekers to get relevant and fulfilling roles. The good news is that digital intervention can act as a catalyst and help scale the physical processes. Many of our potential blue collar job seekers are not digitally savvy enough to search, find, apply and get the job roles of their choice, using digital means. The digital world has to weave into the physical process ensuring seamless integration. Simple things like checking for eligibility, motivating and preparing candidates to go through the interview process and presenting themselves confidently can be key enablers. Handling the diversity of roles, jobs, volume of skilled workers across hundreds of towns and cities is no mean task. Physical interventions alone cannot solve the problem.
Gazabjobs is an interesting effort, created by bright professionals, who through their efforts have built a robust and scalable platform, which has very effectively decentralized job availability by town and city. By working with hundreds of training schools, they enable and empower them to help their students get the right roles. They have been able to democratize the process of preparing potential workers and help them get the right job, through their smart, simple and scalable digital platform. By using an innovative approach, they are potentially helping solve the challenges of a highly fragmented blue collar jobs market. Gazabjobs empowers the entire ecosystem including training & education institutions, formal and informal networks that have access to youth seeking jobs, employers of all sizes, consultants and influencers amongst others. Through the Digital Platform, each centre where skills training is being provided can now offer real jobs through “connections” with potential employers. A tailor made “coaching” process enables the physical process to kick in, integrating seamlessly into the digital platform.
The coming together of the physical and digital worlds, enabling a large repository of jobs that are brought to our trained youth at their doorstep, is like a dream come true. The Digital model plants a jobs website right at the very place where the youth are getting trained or are looking for roles. The physical interactions in turn provide them the coaching and guidance they need before jumping into the whirlpool of life. The entire ecosystem benefits – the youth get jobs, training institutions achieve high placements and employers get the right candidates, enabling improved productivity..
As the digital world embellishes physical efforts, unleashing the potential for millions of new jobs, Sanjay may finally get the chance he is looking for and India it’s opportunity to leverage the demographic dividend.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author. They may or may not reflect the opinions or views of the author’s organisation)
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