A recent study furnished by Bloomberg suggests that nearly half a million jobs were cut over the past six months. Significantly, the report mentions that most lay-offs have been witnessed in white collar jobs. While some believe that job cuts were triggered by advent of newer technologies, a few blame it on the shiny object syndrome, especially in the wake of the pandemic. The report, however, further says that the situation is quite in contrast when it comes to blue collar jobs, which entails manual and physically-taxing labour. Notably, a report published earlier this year by Indian recruitment firm Avsar had already suggested that in 2023, blue collar jobs would grow by nearly 12% vis-à-vis that in 2022.
According to Navneet Singh, Founder and CEO of Avsar, there are a number of factors behind the growth of blue collar jobs, such as the rise of hyperlocal in India, increased demand for essential services, behavioral changes since the pandemic, as well as government funded infrastructure. “Much blue-collar employment is in industries that offer essential services, including manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and transportation. Since the pandemic, many industries have remained mostly constant, and in certain cases, demand has even risen. For instance, while COVID-19 increased the demand for healthcare professionals, lack of affordable homes has increased the demand for construction workers.”
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He further pointed that more individuals are now purchasing things online and having them delivered, leading to an increase in the demand for labour in industries like transportation and warehousing. Singh added, “As part of strategies for economic recovery, governments in several nations are funding infrastructure projects. Construction occupations as well as other associated positions have increased as a result.” With regard to automation, he mentioned that “certain blue-collar positions are less vulnerable to automation than white-collar positions. For instance, it is more challenging to automate activities like welding, plumbing, or carpentry since they call for physical dexterity and specialized knowledge”.
Subhranshu Pattnayak, the Head of Human Resources at Muthoot Microfin, opined that micro entrepreneurship too, supported by microfinance, has been playing a crucial role in creating blue collar jobs in India, particularly for women. “These micro entrepreneurs are engaged in a wide range of sectors such as retail, garments, food, agriculture, and handicrafts, among others. As these businesses grow and expand, they create a demand for various support services, including delivery agents, security guards, electricians, and other blue-collar jobs,” said Pattnayak.
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“Infusion of money into the microfinance sector has created an organized ecosystem, with the potential to contribute significantly to the Indian economy. MFIs provide financial assistance to individuals and groups who do not have access to traditional banking services, enabling them to start and grow their businesses. These micro entrepreneurs, particularly women, are driving growth by creating new jobs and contributing to GDP. They are also improving their own lives by generating a steady income, gaining financial independence, and becoming role models for others in their communities,” he added.