Linking freelancers to jobs: Need AI-powered digital platforms to boost freelancing

Other alternatives to hiring also exist, but with problems–one of them being staffing agencies that are too expensive.

By Abhinav Verma

The traditional recruitment process is broken, and companies are struggling, more than ever, to find skilled talent quickly. This problem will get worse as more companies spring up, especially in India. As per Workable, a leading recruiting platform, it takes companies 60+ days and $8,000 (Rs 5,00,000) to hire talent. This is certainly not favourable in the Covid-era when companies are trying to stay lean. Other alternatives to hiring also exist, but with problems–one of them being staffing agencies that are too expensive.

“Freelancers” or “Independent Contractors” can solve these problems. By hiring freelancers, companies can stay lean, pay for the work done, and save on tax and benefit costs. Moreover, hiring freelancers is a great way for companies to try out talent before they decide to move them to their payroll.

Freelancing is bringing about a paradigm shift in the way people work globally, especially due to Covid. Workers are not encumbered to one company. More important, this helps achieve a better work-life balance. With more than 8 million people out of a job in India due to Covid, freelance is a great way for workers to get back into the job market. The Indian and global labour force is rapidly moving towards freelancing, especially now when workers are getting used to working from home.

India represents the second-largest market for freelancing, with 15 million freelancers. McKinsey, a leading consulting firm, estimates that the Indian Freelance market will grow to $30 billion by 2025, and predicts that half of India’s population will freelance in the next few years.

While freelancing is on the rise, there is a huge need to address the problem of efficient match-making between companies and freelancers, through the use of digital technology and artificial intelligence. Digital platforms can help companies connect with the best freelancers, enable them to manage individual freelancers or a team of freelancers, make payments easily and provide feedback, all in one platform. India must focus on promoting such digital platforms.

The use of AI can help in understanding the hiring preferences of companies and career aspirations of freelancers, and in building hyper-personalised marketplaces. Global digital marketplaces, such as Upwork and Fiverr, are already using AI to streamline the match-making process between companies and freelancers.

For India’s economy to rise rapidly in this decade, the government needs to promote the use of digital freelance platforms. The government should also refine the labour laws to support freelancers. This is already underway with a bill to establish a social security fund for contractors. Such changes are sure to propel India to get back on its pre-Covid growth trajectory, and back on track to achieve the $10-trillion GDP goal set by PM for the next 15 years.

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