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Gig economy: What does it mean for the future of work in India?

Back in the 1960s -70s, we saw our parents hold steady government jobs with retirement benefits. This slowly evolved where most folks in the next generation went on to look for private-sector jobs. Along with it came the era of lay-offs. Now we are in the Gig economy era.

Here a worker moves from one gig (project) to the next. They are not fixed to a job; they have the freedom to choose their working hours and type of work. They are not restricted by geographic boundaries.

However, with this flexibility comes a degree of uncertainty. You are constantly looking for your next gig and are only as good as your last gig. From the employer’s perspective, they don’t have to commit to long-term benefits for the employee. They have the freedom to choose between a host of available talent.

While in the past workers were required to be specialists, the Gig worker is required to be a specialist-generalist. They need to be good at their specific talent but then they also need to be entrepreneurial in being able to manage their brand. They are like mini business owners. Having a business acumen, knowing how to get their next Gig and run their Gigs profitably will be important.

While the employer-provided the employee some form of financial planning through PF schemes, the Gig worker will be responsible for managing their own financial portfolio. They will have to build their portfolio and work towards retirement all on their own.

In the western world, the Gig economy started taking shape back in 2008, However, in India, the true potential of the Gig economy has been accelerated by the onset of the pandemic. Technology is the true enabler of economies. In the last 1.5 years, we have seen the unimaginable – our kids go to online school, the sabzi wala takes money via Google pay. The savvier sabzi wala has built an app to place orders and track deliveries… The list goes on….

According to a report by ASSOCHAM, India is projected to have a million jobs by 2025. So, what does this mean for our children? Why should I be thinking of all this as a parent?

The fact is that our children will be dependent on some evolution of the Gig economy to earn their livelihood. So how are we preparing them for it?

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