India and the Gig Economy

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The recession of 2008, the success witnessed by Fortune 500 companies through platform sourcing and the growth of communication technologies which have made remote work possible has ushered in a new era of work culture known as the gig economy. While the concept of freelancers and contract workers has always been around, the gig economy is characterised by a dynamic shift in perception by employers, employees and society at large.

In the US, as far back as 2016, almost 55 million professionals were considered freelancers. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of employers seeking contract workers jumped by 47%. Intuit, a financial software company that services small businesses and individuals estimates that by 2020, over 43% of the workforce in the US will consist of freelancers. While the US has led the trend, globally too, the gig economy is on an upswing.

How is India poised for the gig economy?

Traditionally, Indians have valued stability over excitement when it comes to their profession. However, results from recent surveys indicate that this trend is definitely changing, at least for millennials and Gen-Zers.

While the US still has the highest number of freelancers, India has an estimated 15 million freelancers, making it the second largest freelance market. While the US market is fairly well developed, the Indian freelancing market is still in its nascent stage, meaning that its potential to grow is still extremely high and presents a lucrative option for early starters.

PayPal’s Global Freelancer Insights reports that one in every four freelancers is from India, and that globally, more than 50% of freelancers seeking jobs in software are Indians below the age of 40.

What is fuelling the freelancing culture in India?

Higher learning curve: India has a millennial population of about 426 million-- more than China and the US combined. Most millennials are well-educated and look for opportunities that will help them grow professionally. Unfortunately, India’s hierarchical and traditional work culture does not grant opportunities democratically. This makes the idea of charting one’s own career path highly attractive.

Global work opportunities: Increasing digitalization, easy availability of internet, various freelancing platforms and rapid advancement in IT has transformed the global market dynamics. There are over 350 million business opportunities online and the global market is projected to grow to $335 billion by 2025. With so many opportunities afoot, Indians can explore global opportunities that will enhance their work profile and portfolio.

Better social acceptance: Society’s perception regarding freelancers is changing. Traditionally, 9 to 5 jobs were considered the hallmark of a steady professional. Millennials no longer subscribe to this notion and being a freelancer today is socially more acceptable than it was in the previous generations.

More opportunities among corporates: Among corporate houses too, hiring freelancers is no longer perceived as being part of the ‘start-up culture’. Instead, large organisations are reaping the benefits of being lean. Hiring experts with niche skills allow the company to tap multiple talents for the price of a single employee. Moreover, freelancers who work with different clients have a greater degree of exposure and are able to add more depth to the business than insiders who would tend to do things the ‘done way.’

There are scores of opportunities for the enterprising freelancer. Kickstart your freelancing career by participating in this contest.

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