India's blue-collar jobs are finally on the rise again
Most white-collar jobs moved online during the pandemic, but blue-collar workers were adversely affected due to the lockdown in India. During this period, job opportunities drastically declined and is now slowly seeing a resurgence post-lockdown.
The sector that has seen the maximum uptick in jobs is logistics and delivery, according to Betterplace, a blue-collar employee management company.
Pravin Agarwala, the co-founder and CEO of Betterplace told TNM that while demand had drastically decreased in April, it has been increasing by 50% each subsequent month as services begin to open up. He highlighted that three major sectors are seeing an uptick — logistics and delivery, facilities and security management, and health staff.
Similarly, a report by QuikrJobs showed that the availability of the blue-collar workforce has now significantly increased, with a surge in applications after April. The report stated that the applications for blue-collar jobs on the portal saw a 108% growth in applications in May as compared to April. The availability of jobs had also increased. But presently, according to Quikr, the workforce available far outweighs the number of available jobs.
“In the month of May, QuikrJobs witnessed a 48% increase in the overall rate of applications per job as compared to average applications per job pre-COVID. An increase in applications per ad is an indicator of unemployment which has caused excessive availability of jobseekers for a role,” Quikr said in its report.
This was seen in QuikrJobs’s results - which saw an increase of 65% in the rate of applications for jobs in metros. In rural areas, the increase was 43%.
Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy showed that unemployment had peaked in May at 27.1% for the weekend ending May 3, and has steadily been falling since then.
“There was a significant increase in applications per job as compared to pre-COVID for roles like Data Entry/Back Office (115%), Delivery executives (139%), Driver (122%), Teacher (108%), Marketing (179%), Sales (187%),” QuikrJobs said in its report.
The surge in demand for delivery executives was also echoed by Pravin, who said that with people ordering more, demand in logistics and delivery has increased. In addition, with the mobility sector still being down, some of them have shifted to this sector in search of work, he said.
This has also gained more attention because shops have opened up, and while they may not need as many people in the store, many are offering delivery now and need logistics as well, added Pravin. Most companies are either partnering with logistics companies or doing this themselves, he said.
Overall, for Betterplace, which used to help hire 1.3-1.4 lakh people pre-COVID, saw a steep dip in April, down to 20,000-30,000. This number, Pravin said, has been increasing by around 50% each subsequent month, and is currently at around 70,000-80,000. Pravin says he expects this trend to continue. With only certain areas now going into lockdown as opposed to nationwide earlier, the impact is small, he said.
Teamlease Services, a job portal for entry-level and blue-collar jobs, told Economic Times that an increase in demand is expected from non-eCommerce sectors “that are looking at creating their own delivery muscle such as restaurants/hotels, apparels, cosmetics, etc.”.
Similarly, since people are starting to return to work and offices opening up, the need for cleaning and sanitation services is more, as well, Pravin from BetterPlace added.
Overall, however, he said that in April, the number of people employed was at roughly 20-25% of the total strength, which is now up to 60-65%.
The third area which is seeing growth is healthcare services — both at hospitals as well as in home care.
In fact, with more people having to stay in home isolation, the Delhi government and the Greater Chennai Corporation had even partnered with home healthcare company Portea Medical for services.
Due to large reverse migration of the workforce in the wake the lockdown, the supply of labour in the construction and manufacturing sector, Pravin said, has reduced. In this field, he added that some firms are even making efforts to go and bring back labour.
However, the QuikrJobs report interestingly shows that the rate of job applications has not significantly shifted to non-metros or rural areas with reverse migration.
There is fluctuating demand in the sector, Pravin said, but supply does fall short of demand. Those in construction cannot start work without plumbers, masons, electricians and others, he added.
It is important to note, however, that demand for various blue-collar jobs has varied depending on the spread of COVID-19. According to Pravin, demand for healthcare workers and home care has increased in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai for delivery workers as it continues to be under lockdown, and Bengaluru for facilities and security management as most offices have opened up