Tech-ing rural India by storm: The platforms helping blue-collar workers find employment
As the country becomes increasingly digital, a number of technology-based grassroots startups cater specifically to the job needs of small-town India
Suraj Kumar from Sohna, Haryana, had always aspired to rise above his social station. The thirst to become his own man-made him pursue a diploma in welding from the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in his hometown. Yet, seven months after course completion saw him nowhere near work. Disheartened but still hopeful, he took his friend’s advice and looked up TheInCircle, a web-based jobs listing platform focusing on the tech-specific spheres of manufacturing, production and industrial verticals.
Excited at seeing the testimonials of successful job aspirants, he created a free profile on his mobile phone. Two days later, he received an interview call from the Hero MotoCorp plant in Faridabad and landed the job. Kumar’s story comes on the heels of a recent report by Bengaluru-based hiring firm Qjobs. According to it, India’s blue-collar job market showed a staggering 73 percent growth in vacancies in the first three months of 2022 compared to the previous quarter.
Referring to Kumar’s success story as one of their many, Abhimanyu Jain, founder of Delhi-based TheInCircle, which caters to aspirants across the country, shares, “By eliminating the mediator between the job seeker and the employer, the employees have a chance to maximise their remuneration, and be paid as per their skill level.
This concept is new when it comes to grassroots-level jobs like machine operators, fitters, welders, construction workers, tailors, factory helpers, and staff for manufacturing, production, textile, automobiles, etc. People can look for jobs both in their locality and in other cities. This also removes the uncertainty of travelling to metros without a job in hand.”
Since its launch in 2016, TheInCircle has placed over 10 lakh aspirants throughout the country, with every month seeing over 500 new job listings. Specifically targeting villages and smaller cities, these ventures aim to solve on-ground issues like imparting vocational and communication skills, providing short-term contract jobs and training people to crack local-level government exams. Their technology also helps employers connect with relevant candidates in ‘less than two minutes,’ as career-tech jobs venture, Jobsgaar.com, claims. When time is money, this speed helps business-owners scale faster without wasting effort in filtering candidates.
Noida-based Jobsgaar began operations in 2021 and has already seen a sign-up rate of 43 percent -- much higher than 11.45 percent of the world’s top 10 employment search portals such as Monster, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc. Its co-founder Atul Pratap Singh says the employment issue for the people in rural and small-town belt is not because of a lack of talent or a dearth of job opportunities there. “In reality, it is fuelled by a ‘mismatch’ between job seekers and employers,” he says. His team aims to fill this void through their algorithm, which filters relevant jobs for seekers within their hometown.
One can sign up for it through WhatsApp, their web platform, or an Android app. Jobsgaar has recorded over 12,000 app downloads -- and 5,400 jobs from Uttar Pradesh alone in the 15 days of its launch -- and is estimating onboarding over a million job seekers in the next few months.
On similar lines, Mikro Grafeio, a workspace and workforce solutions company in Bengaluru, has multiple customised options to help businesses scale up, while letting locals find jobs. “India has the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world. To support this growth and help businesses scale, we aim to extend our presence to over 500 locations across India, which will enable direct employment for over 250,000 people. We believe that creating an ecosystem that synergises the local economy will lead to indirect employment of over 20 percent,” says Ranchu Nair, co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Mikro Grafeio.
According to a report published on datareportal.com, there were 658 million internet users in India in January 2022, an increase of 34 million over the previous year. For a nation battling acute poverty, unemployment, and other issues, these numbers coupled with the rising popularity of tech ventures, makes one hopeful of fast-tracked economic progress. And scripting the nation’s growth story are these grassroots startups, who are ensuring no one is left behind, one job at a time.