Covid & Jobs: How can the digital domain take a lead?

Uma Ganesh | May 10, 2021 |

Segments centred around digital technology seem to have a huge appetite for talent infusion

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the employment generation capability of the economy. The monthly unemployment rate stood at a staggering 23.52% as per CMIE’s data in April 2021 with the spurt in the unemployment rate being high both in rural and urban areas – 7.13% and 9.78% respectively resulting in 7 million more people becoming unemployed since the start of Covid II phase.

In the near term and medium term, majority of the country’s reserves and investment potential would be mostly directed towards life saving requirements in the healthcare segment. Until a sizeable part of the population is vaccinated and the country is protected against further ravages of the pandemic, both domestic and external investment are going to be muted awaiting the green shoots on the horizon. Hence the big question for a country which enjoys the most demographic dividend in the world with more than 54% of the total population below 25 years of age is how jobs can be created amidst this grim scenario.

Currently the segments that seem to have a huge appetite for talent infusion seem to be those which are centered around digital technology – in IT/ITES services, e-commerce, fintech and other digitally enabled businesses. Post Covid, with most businesses going digital all over the world, global companies are even more looking to India for their digital needs. Tech businesses are experiencing high attrition rates of 10-15% and according to a Michael Page 2021 report, 77% of technology professionals will voluntarily leave their current jobs and look for new ones in 2021.

Further, with several companies announcing impressive results as well as forecasting tremendous uptake in the demand for their services, the scarce supply of talent in the market is forcing them to explore new avenues for talent.

In order to capitalise on this opportunity, firstly digital skill building has to become the focus for every state. Given that remote working and gig workforce have come to be accepted as the new phenomenon of employment, those with the right digital skill sets would be in a position to take advantage of such opportunities. Companies focused on achieving diversity in their workforce are keen to go beyond their physical locations in large cities to small towns thus enabling them to expand their talent pool by also hiring competent women who could work from home.

Thus the combination of expanding the talent pool and achieving a possible cost advantage could throw up new business models of business, work and employment options. Telecom companies, educational institutions and property owners which hitherto were merely providers of service or assets to IT/ITES companies could now consider creating countrywide distributed workplaces thus enabling millions of people to work from home or from compact workspaces thus providing alternate models for servicing global customers. The foundation of such a model rests in skilling for different technologies and domains and building the hub and spoke linkages with the nearest location with large scale operation for expertise, processes and quality supervision. Instead of seeking permanent employment opportunities with well-known brands, the youth need to plan for regular upskilling to remain valuable as gig employees. Reverse migration due to lockdown could thus become a boon to those who could tap into this talent pool to build new models of operations that are sustainable in the long run.