Use of Technology in Blue Collar Workforce Management
The term “blue collar” is frequently used interchangeably with “low-skilled workers”, but that’s only one side of the story, since their employment can range from simple waste disposal loading-unloading to strategic movements on the production line. Undoubtedly, blue collar workers are the backbone of any industry, be it production or service.
According to various sources, the number of blue collar workers in India ranges between 30 and 45 crores. To find work, a blue collar worker will generally resort to mass recruiters or subcontractors. The majority of these jobs are filled by small businesses that depend on recruitment agencies or contractors. They have to pay significant commissions to locate a worker when they engage with one, which can vary from 5-10%. Even employees are sometimes required to pay commissions in order to obtain these positions.
This old approach is inefficient, benefiting intermediaries rather than active actors (workers or companies). It’s long, expensive and unstructured. There is no support for employees after they are placed in a particular job or after they leave that job.
These organizations or companies do not keep any records (digital or otherwise) of the jobs performed by these blue collar workers, which could help these workers find other jobs in the future. Workers have little or no flexibility regarding geography or working hours, and no coaching or counseling is provided to help them improve their skill level or performance.
The current system has flaws
Despite being a socio-economically rich country, India has the highest unemployment rate in the world. One explanation for all of this is that there is no effective mechanism in the labor ecosystem to connect supply and demand. Even though we have a large number of workers available, they are unevenly distributed across the country, so there will be a region or locality where there will be an excess supply of labor, while another may be insufficient in this respect. Another problem is that the skills of the workers are more geared towards the type of employment that is generally available to them in their region.
The paradigm shift
COVID has caused a revolution in ways no one could have foreseen since its inception in 2020. Both workers and businesses have been affected. Widespread emigration has caused unprecedented levels of demand and supply shortages across all industries. The work-from-home system was a concept of white-collar employment, with few prospects for less-qualified peers.
It also fostered an environment in which workers were reluctant to return to their old workplaces due to the possibility of further closures, as well as a lack of desire to leave their families or homes.
Fortunately, at that time, the government’s ambition to digitize the financial system and the nation was in full swing. COVID-19 presented the right scenario to implement it on a large scale, which of course encouraged a variety of new approaches to the work in progress.
In addition, government efforts to reinvigorate the economy through initiatives such as Atmanirbhar Bharat and PLI (Production Linked Incentive) have started to create opportunities across the country.
Technology can significantly influence blue-collar workforce management. We are at the dawn of the 4th industrial revolution, which will be defined by the integration of various technologies and the crossing of the borders of the physical and digital world.
Many things have changed thanks to technology, and many professions have become obsolete, but the human factor has not been lost. People who make the real connections between people and services, such as grocery delivery, packers and movers, etc., are still blue-collar jobs. Even though technology has changed the laws of sport, they are the conduit through which all service delivery takes place on the field.
The emergence of digital hiring platforms, paperless onboarding, geo-fenced attendance systems, automated payroll, automated compliance systems, and opportunities for digital upskilling, obtaining loans and One-click career progression opportunities on a single platform in the blue-collar arena will drive unprecedented changes in workforce management. The main advantage of these platforms will be the equal availability of labor across the country. Workers will be able to find jobs in areas that suit them.
At a very rapid pace, industry and business would be able to discover people with the relevant skills they demand. These platforms can give authentication and employment records of these people, as well as guarantee accountability and proper wages to workers, which is a significant gap in the conventional system.
These platforms encourage on-demand hiring, which reduces fixed costs for businesses while allowing employees to work how and when they want. Online platforms would also help organizations by providing additional services such as attendance tracking, payroll and labor settlement at scale, among others, ensuring that management’s attention is focused. focuses exclusively on business tasks and increased efficiency.
The re-emergence of blue collar workers is underway, and technology is driving this re-emergence. Blue-collar workers are no longer classified in the “B” category. As startups become unicorns and traditional businesses earn multiples of their revenue, it’s their hard-working staff that grants them those titles. Now is the time to give back to them, and as an employer or organization, you can do that by integrating them into your workplace culture and developing them in the same way as your white-collar staff. Overall, technology has played a major role in managing the blue collar workforce.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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