There are very few parts of people’s digital lives that Google does not have a product for. With the new feature on its digital payments platform Google Pay, the global tech giant has also ventured into Job listings, but exclusively for the emerging working class — the gig economy or digital economy workers. This group, which is literally carrying the burden of upcoming business models and innovations, delivering convenience at our doorsteps, but there hasn’t been a jobs product dedicated for them yet, not in the Indian context at least.
The Google Jobs platform is the first of its kind, especially in India, as it will be catering to individuals looking for temporary and contractual work with retail and digital brands, and comes at a time of great need as unemployment is at an all-time high in the country.
Job Crunch Hits India Inc
India’s premier data collection agency National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) job survey for 2017-18 revealed that the unemployment rate in India was at a 45-year high. However, the Indian government withheld the report. Another report by “State of India’s Environment (SoE) In Figures 2019,” states that the unemployment in India has doubled since 2016. In August 2019, the unemployment rate reached 8.4%, according to a NGO think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.
Most recently, a Coimbatore corporation job listing highlighted the plight after the Tamil Nadu government received over 7K applications for 549 sanitary worker roles. Most of these applicants were engineers, post-graduates, graduates and diploma holders, hinting that job crunch is a much bigger problem than talent crunch in India.
As the rise in unemployment coincides with the economic slowdown even the companies that are looking for employees have been reluctant to hire full-time employees. That is where the gig economy has come into play.
Google Targets Gig Workers
Gig economy is much more prevalent in India than in the US and other first world countries, who headed towards digitisation way before India.
Speaking to Inc42, a Google Jobs spokesperson said, “We see that there exists an unorganised workforce within the organised sector, which is entry-level jobs. Delivery executives, restaurant waiters and retail sales executives are just a few examples of jobs that have been challenging for employers and job seekers to connect. This is the gap we plan to fill with Jobs and we have built an experience, from the bottom up, to cater to this need.”
With Google Jobs, the Indian gig workers would not just get a platform to get connected to the sort of jobs that fit their interests and skills, but it also trains job seekers in soft skills with the help of informative articles and videos.
According to a report to Ernst & Young’s 2017 Future of Jobs in India report showcased that 24% of the world’s gig workers hail from India. In India, around 1.3 Mn Indians migrated to five cities — Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai — in the second half of financial year 2019.
Taking note of the plight of the gig economy workers, the Karnataka government has decided to formulate policies to ensure better working conditions. Gig economy refers to a workforce ecosystem in which short-term engagements, temporary contracts, and independent contracting is commonplace.
The development comes after the state’s gig workers had raised their grievances in front of the state’s labour department, last month. The workers, affiliated with online platforms, complained of irregular working hours, deviation from labour contracts and poor health coverage, among others.
With the advent of new players and innovation emerging in the Indian consumer service sector, the Indian gig economy is growing by leaps and bounds. Between September 2018 to March 2019, Indian’s national capital added over 5.60 Lakh people to its gig economy, noting an 88% hike from the 298 workers from the first half of FY2019.
Bengaluru, which had the second-highest number, noted a 29% hike from 1.94 Lakh in the first half of the FY2019 to 2.52 Lakh in the second half. A 2018 global study by PayPal stated that one in every four freelancers globally is from India. Some of the major players in the freelance marketplace include Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr and Truelancer.
India’s Startups Turn Job Creators
To cater to these gig economy workers, Google has partnered with employers across categories like on-demand businesses, retail and hospitality to list available “entry-level positions”, which are currently being fulfilled through “inefficient” offline channels.
Led by Bickey Russell, the product head for Google Jobs (Kormo), the global tech giant wants to give a formal touch to the entire sector, which has otherwise has been sidelined.
To facilitate the process even further, Google has integrated the Job listing platform with its digital payments platform Google Pay, which claims to have over 67 Mn monthly active users in India. In addition, Google is also planning to simplify the process even further by integrating the new Spot feature, which will allow users to apply for jobs just by scanning a code in present in retail stores and other startups that are looking for employees.
Google has planned Jobs to target temp jobs, gig economy workers or any business which has a high workforce requirement. Examples used by Russell included the likes of Biba, a women’s apparel brand and Healthkart, which sells medicines. But startups make up a big portion of Jobs partners at this time, Russell told Inc42.
Besides employers, Google has also taken it up a notch by collaborating with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), which comes under the Ministry of Finance to generate awareness among the fresh talent, who are actively enrolling themselves on the government-run platform to seek potential job opportunities.
Google Taps Skilling Opportunity
Going beyond creating awareness about the job requirements, payscale and existence of new job opportunities, Google has also acknowledged the need for reskilling among the Indian workforce in order to cater to the demands of the employers. Therefore, it has paid equal attention to enhancing the skill set of potential employees, interview preparation and much more through videos and articles included in the platform.
The idea of this new Google Jobs’ platform is to forge deep partnerships at both the talent end as well as the employer end to have a constant pulse of the needs of both and can match more effectively, the company added.
Even though, India was a late entrant to the digitisation and startup hub bandwagon, Google believes that the market has a unique factor playing in its favor, which has given tremendous depth to the available talent pool in the country, presenting a huge opportunity. The opportunities are further accelerated with the growth of internet-enabled categories such as foodtech, or categories like beauty retail have also added several new jobs, which possibly didn’t exist a few years ago.
Russell further added, “Our task is firstly, lower the awareness barrier, secondly, help candidates understand which skills and qualifications have applicability across sectors and accordingly recommend the right jobs to them.”
The Indian gig-economy is bound to grow rapidly with the rise in the number of innovations in the market, the push for commercialisation and the potential growth of the digital sector. The real question here is how much of it will Google cater to through its Jobs platform on Google Pay, and whether this first step in the job market in India will become a major focus for the company in the near future.