Future of Gig Workforce in India

13 Jun 2023

The gig economy is revolutionizing the way we work, and the numbers are indicative of its growth. It is estimated that India will see an increase in its gig workforce by 110 lakh or more workers by 2025. Urbanization, a pool of talented younger generations, and increased access to technology and smartphones have enabled this form of employment to flourish. Flexibility is its key selling point, as it provides opportunities to people from different professions.

Future Estimations for the Gig Sector 

According to a NITI Aayog June 2022 report on the gig economy, the gig workforce has the potential to increase to 2.35 crore by 2030 (NITI Aayog June 2022 report). 
In 2023, gig or contractual hiring is expected to increase to 9% on an average of the total workforce hiring as compared to the 8% recorded in 2022. The key sectors contributing to gig-workforce hiring will be automotive, engineering & manufacturing, GIC, and IT.
If we consider the number of gig force workers in terms of expertise reported by NITI Aayog, 31% of the workers are in low-skilled work, 47% in medium-skilled work, whereas 22% are in high-skilled work.

Support For the Gig Workforce

Health Benefits and Leaves: Gig economy platforms can provide health insurance benefits to their workers to ensure their well-being and safety. These include coverage for medical costs, hospitalization, preventive care services such as regular health check-ups and vaccinations, as well as paid leaves for workers. 
Skill Development for Informal Gig Employees: Platform-led upskilling initiatives are essential for enabling workers in the informal sector, such as driving or masonry, to take up jobs in the gig sector. Platform businesses can provide certifications, allowing workers to progress better in their careers.
Adequate Protection: Although gig workers get minimum wages, they need certain legal protection, policies, and opportunities like other employees protected under labour laws. This can protect the rights of gig workers and help curb labour disputes. 

This shift is ushering in unprecedented professional freedom, despite a lack of certain benefits that come with full-time jobs. However, the situation is improving, and the Social Security Code of 2020 brought certain regulations for the benet of gig workers.

Indian Unorganized Sector

The unorganised sector in India is a vast and complex network of small-scale businesses and self-employed individuals that are not regulated by the government and lack formal contracts or agreements with their employees. Despite its informal nature, the unorganised sector is a significant contributor to the Indian economy, providing employment to a large portion of the population. In 2023, it is estimated to account for approximately 45% of the country’s GDP and employ around 90% of the workforce. 

While the unorganised sector presents job opportunities for many individuals, it is also characterized by several challenges. The most significant of these challenges is the lack of social security for workers, including inadequate health coverage, inadequate pension benefits, and limited access to unemployment insurance. Many workers in the unorganised sector also face poor working conditions, such as long hours, low wages, and unsafe working environments. 

Another major challenge facing the unorganised sector in 2023 is the lack of formal employment opportunities and limited access to education and training. As a result, workers in the unorganised sector often lack the skills and knowledge needed to upgrade their livelihoods and improve their job prospects. This lack of upward mobility has serious implications for the long-term well-being of workers and their families. 

Despite these challenges, the Indian government has been taking steps to improve the situation in the unorganised sector. In 2021, the government announced the National Policy for Informal Sector Workers, which aims to provide social security and health coverage to informal sector workers. Additionally, the government has announced plans to establish a national floor level minimum wage to ensure that all workers receive a fair and living wage. These policies are crucial for improving the lives of workers in the unorganised sector and ensuring their long-term well-being. 

In conclusion, while the gig economy is growing rapidly in India, the unorganised sector remains a major source of employment for a significant portion of the population. Addressing the challenges facing the unorganised sector will be crucial for ensuring the well-being and livelihoods of these workers in 2023 and beyond. The government’s e orts to improve the situation in the unorganised sector, such as the National Policy for Informal Sector Workers and plans for a national floor level minimum wage, are a step in the right direction and signal a commitment to improving the lives of workers in India.

This article is derived from the CII Publication “Decoding Jobs: India safe, shores, amid the global crisis”.