Upskilling, Deskilling, and Reskilling Remain The Most Important: Tarun Sinha, OLX People

In the conversation BW People, Tarun Sinha, Head of OLX People (Horizontal Business Unit, OLX India) speaks about the changing demand of certain skills and job profiles and the impact of the pandemic on Blue-collar jobs.


What has been the impact of lockdown on jobs across segments (blue & white collar; besides the unorganized sector jobs)?

The impact of the pandemic on blue-collar jobs is extremely significant. Migrant workers perhaps faced the biggest brunt of the lockdown, however, the impact on blue-collar gig workers has been mixed. While essential services demanded a rise in the delivery staff, many discretionary service companies shut shops. The mixed impact is also due to the dip in food ordering and ride-hailing and a significant surge in groceries. With the lockdown being removed in different phases, there has already been a spurt in demand for pickers, packers, and delivery partners in urban India. Many brick and mortar stores are attempting to reinvent their business models to enable online presence aiming towards contactless delivery. There is a growing preference for home delivery which is leading to the preparation of ramping up online businesses among large retailers, e-commerce players, restaurants, and aggregators.

There is an expected spurt in the demand for logistics and delivery coming festive season. A new segment around health and safety has also opened up, which is fuelling demand for verification, sanitization and security personnel.

As for white-collar jobs, manufacturing, hospitality, IT and ITeS sectors have witnessed a major slump while edu-tech, healthcare, and companies in essential service business saw an unprecedented increase in hiring.

Which sectors are hiring and are expected to increase their hiring?

Currently, what we have seen on our platform is that the sectors that are hiring primarily include essential services and logistics. Other sectors are healthcare, telecom, mobile with some green-shoots in BFSI. Now we are in the second month of unlocking, and while the earlier signs of revival were limited to hubs like Bangalore and Gurgaon, now the trend has become more secular. Hiring patterns have adjusted slightly to the new normal and we have seen an increase across all cities including tier 2 and tier 3 where they are expecting a ramp-up in the coming months.

In the blue-collar and entry-level segment, ITeS and e-commerce are expected to emerge as the biggest employers in the second quarter, as per the first annual ‘Employer Sentiment Survey’ conducted by OLX People. Here are some of the key findings from the survey with respect to jobs in this segment.

● Job security and health benefits will trump salary as a key determinant for accepting a job in the post-COVID era

● More than 50 percent of employers are considering including health and social security benefits for blue-collar and entry-level workers

● While 63 percent of employers expect a mild shortage of workers when demand surges, they do not expect blue-collar workers to be more expensive than before

How OLX People is helping job seekers and companies?

In lieu of the current unfoldings, OLX People is rightly positioned to enable and equip blue-collar workers to find the right match in the new environment that is more digital-focused. With its best-in-class matchmaking algorithm, OLX People is enabling both the job seekers and the job providers to find each other. OLX People is leveraging its network and pool of clients to place retrenched employees across sectors and also helping them be future-ready by providing resources to upskill.

In April, OLX People provided relief measures to migrant workers in collaboration with NGOs like Bhumi and India Cares, through Goodera. Additionally, OLX also extended support to its business partners which include many small entrepreneurs by extending the duration of existing paid ads on the platforms without any charge.

How has technology changed the landscape of informal jobs given the current situation?

There is a continued effort from the government and private sectors to expand the ambit of the organized sector. The formalization of the unorganized sector is extremely significant from two standpoints - to generate revenue and upgrade economic activities to digital.

Many recruitment firms are now offering replacements for retrenched employees in the informal setup while many startups and corporates have set up outplacement cells for the identification of the skill-set of retrenched employees to match them with prospective employers. This has been achieved on the back of technology that makes match-making easier. While efforts are on-going, there has been a heightened realisation in India around the need to improve the working conditions of the informal economy.

With India becoming more self-reliant, there is an increased focus on production and hence, an expected increase in the demand for blue-collar workers. This could further make the informal economy contract and move towards a more digital-focused environment.

Do you think that technology is a threat to people's relationships?

Well, everything in the world has its advantages and disadvantages. While technology may have received some flak for limiting personal human relations in the past, today it is a saving grace given the unprecedented times that we are living in. Technology today has become a clear winner among various segments of society.

It has improved the lives of people across cities and countries and even businesses in different segments. Be it companies like Apple and Google or even farmers and agriculture workers in India’s remote cities, digital technology has been an enabler across the realm.

It is definitely deeply ingrained in the urban spaces, however, there are fears that the poorest may be left behind. The improvement in the livelihoods of people living in poverty can also be revolutionized with the help of technology. Digital agriculture is being increasingly adopted by farmers to access information in real-time. Hence, the use of technology at both a micro and a macro-level could determine the near and the long-term scenario and bring in a bigger change in the lives around us.

 As a leader; to what extent do you think open and authentic communication can help an organization grow especially in these tough times?

Open and authentic communication should be the bedrock of any organization irrespective of the external environment. It becomes more crucial in these unprecedented times, with external stakeholders and more importantly with employees who act as a trusted interface with clients and partners. With the onset of Covid-19, we had initiated measures to ensure the safety and mental well-being of our employees. This involved consistency in communication and clear SOPs to reach out to internal and external support groups in case they are facing a health condition or a challenge while working from home.

It is a time to build upon and maintain the trust that a brand has built over the years and come out as a more credible and trustworthy organization. Creating a sense of purpose and showcasing the strength of the character of an organization during these times will build long term brand equity for the organization.

How is it that an organization is giving back to its community, the people, employees will go a long way as the world prepares for a return to a work situation.

What are those things that you have realized or developed in your personal life in recent times?

This “Black Swan” event will have leaders in uncharted territory, no management books, theories, learnings, and philosophies will help. As we dig within, relearn, unlearn, adapt, get frugal,

innovate, we will find our new “center”. This will only make us more agile, and some of us will evolve and come out stronger and wiser on the other side.

According to you what is the definition for the New World or the New Normal?

The new normal as an analogy is our cope up mechanism because normal is usually regular and less to be feared. It indicates a complete shift in the way societies, organizations, people, and economies function. For the job market particularly, there is a sea change in attitudes, perspectives, and aspirations of both the employers and the employees. Upskilling, Deskilling, and Reskilling remain the most important requirements for businesses now as the pandemic has changed the way organizations view their business, success, and operations.


Around The World