The term “blue-collar workers” is frequently used interchangeably with “low skilled workers,” however this is only one side of the story, since their employment can range from simple rubbish disposal loading-unloading to strategic moves at the production line. Without a doubt, blue-collar employees constitute the backbone of every industry, whether production or services.
According to various sources, the number of blue-collar workers in India ranges between 30 and 45 crores. To find work, a blue-collar worker will typically resort to mass recruiters or contractors. The bulk of these jobs are filled by small businesses that rely on staffing agencies or contractors. They must pay large commissions to locate a worker when engaging with either of them, which may vary from 5 to 10%. Even employees are sometimes required to pay commissions in order to obtain these positions.
This old approach is inefficient, benefiting middlemen rather than active players (workers or businesses). It is time-consuming, costly, and unstructured. There is no assistance for employees after they are put up in a particular position or after they leave that job.
These organizations or companies keep no records (digital or otherwise) of the jobs completed by such blue-collar workers, which could help these workers find other jobs in the future. Workers have little to no flexibility when it comes to geography or working hours, and no coaching or guidance is provided to help them enhance their level of skill or performance.
The current system has flaws
Despite being a socioeconomically rich country, India has the highest unemployment rates in the world. One explanation for all of this is that there is no effective mechanism in the Labor ecosystem to connect supply and demand. Even if we have a great number of workers available, they are distributed unevenly around the country, therefore there will be a region or locality where there is an excess of labor supply, while another may be inadequate in this regard. Another issue is that workers’ competencies are more biased toward the sort of employment that is usually accessible to them in their local area.
The paradigm shift
COVID has brought about a revolution in ways that no one could have predicted since its inception in 2020. Workers and businesses were both affected. The widespread emigration caused unprecedented levels of demand and supply shortages across all industries. The Work—from—the home system was a White Collar Job concept, with few prospects for less qualified peers.
This also fostered an environment in which workers were hesitant to return to their prior place of employment due to the potential of further lockdowns, as well as a lack of desire to depart from their families or homes.
Fortunately, by this time, the Government’s ambition to digitize the financial system and nation was in full gear. COVID-19 presented just the right scenario to implement it on a large scale, which, of course, encouraged a variety of new approaches to the work that was being done.
Furthermore, the government’s push to reinvigorate the economy through initiatives such as Atmanirbhar Bharat and PLI (Production Linked Incentive) began to create opportunities across the country.
Technology can significantly influence blue-collar workforce management. We are on the verge of the 4th Industrial Revolution, which will be defined by the integration of various technologies and the crossing of physical and digital world boundaries.
Many things have changed as a result of technology, and many occupations have become obsolete, yet the human factor has not been lost. People who make the actual connections between people and services, such as grocery delivery, packers and movers, and so on, are still blue-collar jobs. Even though technology has evolved the laws of the sport, they are the conduit by which the entire service delivery occurs on the ground.
The emergence of digital hiring platforms, paperless onboarding, geo fenced attendance systems, automated payroll, automated compliance systems and opportunities to upskill digitally, get loans and career progression opportunities on click of a button on a single platform in the blue-collar arena will cause unprecedented changes in the workforce management. The main benefit of these platforms will be the equality of labor availability across the country. Workers will be able to locate jobs in areas that are convenient to them.
At a very rapid pace, industry and enterprises would be able to discover individuals with the relevant skill sets that they demand. These platforms may give authentication and employment records of these people, as well as guarantee accountability and proper wages to workers, which is a significant gap in the conventional system.
These platforms encourage on-demand hiring, which lowers fixed expenses for businesses while also allowing employees to work how and when they choose. Online platforms would also help organizations by delivering additional services such as attendance tracking, payroll, and workforce settlement at scale, among other things, ensuring that management’s attention is exclusively on business tasks and enhanced efficiency.
The re-emergence of blue-collar employees is occurring, and technology is the source of this re-emergence. Blue-collar workers are no longer classified as ‘B’ category employees. With startups becoming unicorns and traditional corporations gaining multiples of their income, it is their blue-collar staff that is granting them these titles. The moment has come to give them back, and as an employer or organization, one can do so by making them a component of your workplace culture and up-skilling them similarly to your white-collar staff. Overall, technology has played a major role in blue-collar workforce management.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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