“I dream of a young India that is not constrained by any limitations whatsoever. I want the youth of this country to lead a life filled with hope and opportunity.” — Narendra Modi
The gig economy of India is expected to expand at a yearly rate of 17%, reaching $455 billion by 2024, as Per Taggd’s Decoding Jobs 2023 India Report. It can create about 30% of jobs in the non-agricultural sectors and add 1.25% to India’s GDP in the coming years. Despite gig work being a predominantly new concept, limited to a few sectors, such as tech, media, designing, and logistics, the numbers indicate its potential to fulfill various service roles across industries.
Gig workers have emerged as the go-to source of labor in this new global economy. Technological advancements have facilitated the expansion of the gig economy in India, making it easier for gig workers (or freelancers) to find contractual work.
Factors Influencing the Rise of the Gig Economy
- Changing Work Preferences
Taggd’s recent survey on the Best Companies to Work for 2023 revealed that 41% of professionals plan to shift to gig work compared to 33% in 2021 due to imminent factors such as better control over their work schedule and more autonomy. Professionals are now prioritizing work-life balance, flexibility at work, and the ability to choose work assignments. The changing preferences of professionals are a major factor in the gig economy’s growth.
- The Startup Culture
India has been producing startups rapidly, making it the second-largest startup ecosystem in the world, with a valuation of over $341 billion. These young companies need a talented workforce but are limited by constraints like a tight budget and the inability to offer many other employment perks like PF contribution, overtime payments, paid leaves, etc. The gig economy provides an efficient and fast solution for businesses to outsource their core and on-demand operations without dealing with high hiring costs, long recruitment processes, and other regulations.
- Emerging Freelancing Platforms
The rise of freelancing platforms, such as Upwork and Truelancer, has been instrumental in the gig economy’s growth. Both startups and Fortune 500 companies have increased their reliance on these platforms.
Preparing for the Gig Economy
By 2030, India’s job landscape will become highly demanding due to the impact of AI and automation. Hence, you must be well-equipped with the necessary skills to navigate these changes and secure a position in the gig economy.
Think of your career as a business rather than just a job if you want to prepare for the gig economy and be successful.
- Explore Gig Opportunities
Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” This is especially relevant in the context of the gig economy because you need to get started with small gigs to understand if you are fit for this sector. The more you work on small gigs, the better you will understand the skills you need to acquire to thrive independently.
- Gain Industry-specific Skills
Gaining industry-specific skills as a gig worker is important to stand out and remain competitive. Stay updated on the emerging skills in demand in your specific industry and invest in courses to acquire the same. Content creation, UX designing, and data analysis are some of the emerging gig roles in India that you can pursue.
The best way to utilize what you learn is to take up small gig work and put your knowledge into practice. Having specialized skills allows you to present yourself as an expert to potential clients and employers, as well as find more opportunities to further your career.
- Search the Marketplace
Before entering the gig economy, proactively seek potential clients who can offer consistent work opportunities. Identifying a few key customers can help you build a successful career.
Gig work platforms like Awign provide abundant opportunities for workers across India. With over 15L gig partners and 11 crore completed projects, Awign has become a reliable platform for gig work. The gig economy is expanding beyond blue-collar jobs, with a 240% increase in white-collar or high-skilled gig workers, especially in tech roles.
- Build Your Visibility
In the gig economy, building a good professional reputation, collecting strong references, and mastering self-promotion are crucial for success. You can develop these qualities while you are still a full-time employee.
If you want to join the gig economy and excel at it, start marketing your expertise. Build your competitive reputation through your blog, website, or LinkedIn profile. Post your work on social media regularly to increase your chances of being seen by employers.
I would like to conclude with what Pele said — “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
The gig economy is flourishing, offering a lot of opportunities for professionals to explore. So, develop the right skills, take up as many gig opportunities as possible, hone your existing skills, and never limit your potential.
About the Author
Pankaj Bansal is the Co-founder of PeopleStrong, Taggd, and Work Universe (a Fund investing in jobs and work tech). He is a non-executive director at Karmayogi Bharat (Capacity building or Civil Servants) and many other startups. Follow him on Twitter at @pankajbansalPB.