Employment rate worldwide

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A job for life: the ‘new economy’ and the rise of the artisan career

More people are combining passion with profit in search of their dream profession

Whatever you think of the gig economy, it does throw up some amusingly bizarre jobs. Set Sar, of Providence, Rhode Island, told this paper in 2015 that he earns a crust by looking at videos and web pages on his computer while having his eyeball movements tracked via webcam. The information this provides is valuable to advertisers — and earns him a dollar every few minutes. In its higher echelons, the gig economy has led to an array of jobs with “consultant” in their title, as people find ingenious ways to peddle niche services to the rich. In New York, for example, “play date consultants” charge up to $400 an hour to teach the progeny of millionaires to share their toys.

The bad news (or good, depending on your viewpoint) is that none of this is going to change. Work is going to become even more bitty and insecure. The concept of a “job for life” has seemed outmoded for a while now. In the future, it seems doubtful whether “jobs” as we know them will exist at all. Many, of course, will be done away with by the much-prophesied automated takeover of everything from truck driving to brain surgery. But that is only half the story. Something more basic is under threat: the entire edifice of office-based, nine-to-five employment that has defined our working lives for at least a century.

The bargain employees once struck with their employers was simple: they handed their minds and bodies over for 40 hours or more each week, in exchange for security, pensions, mortgages. But today this model makes little sense. Many jobs — certainly most white-collar ones — consist of a range of different tasks, the majority of which can be performed by anyone with an internet connection. So why employ one person to do them all, when that also involves renting office space, investing in training, paying benefits and employing managers to supervise? Why not, instead, slice jobs up into their component parts, and contract these out to specialists? In many industries — pharmaceuticals, accountancy — this is already happening, as full-time employees are replaced by contractors. For millions of people around the globe, this is what the future holds: each worker a one-person corporation, a droplet in what some are calling the “human cloud”.

Such a future strikes fear into many. And it will, no doubt, have deplorable consequences. Unemployment will rise. Wages may drop. A new model of welfare will have to emerge, to ensure that those pushed out of the workplace can survive. (Universal basic incomes and “digital dividends” are among the ideas being advocated.) For the unskilled and un-enterprising, the fragmentation of work is especially dangerous. Blue-collar workers are already getting a foretaste of what may lie ahead as employers extricate themselves from their traditional obligations by forcing employees to work on zero-hours contracts.

Read the entire article here.

Source: Financial Times

IT sector dims as beacon of Indian job creation

Hiring slowdown adds to challenge of finding work for booming adult population

In a lab deep within a landscaped campus in the western Indian city of Pune, 16 recent graduates are experimenting with new technologies that are shaking up a flagship national industry.

Tata Consultancy Services, the largest of India’s powerful IT services companies, set up the lab 18 months ago to enable new starters to work on the “internet of things”, the field of connected machines and appliances that is one of the company’s fast-growing areas of business — and one on which the company’s future depends. Since then, the young team has produced three ideas the company will now market to clients, including a system enabling technicians to find data on an appliance by looking at it through smart glasses and another that creates alerts when machines are at risk of malfunctioning.

“We’ve moved away from the repetitive work — we’re getting a chance to learn something new each day, so it doesn’t become monotonous,” says Priyanshi Saxena, 23.

But while the shift to disruptive new technologies has opened exciting new opportunities for Ms Saxena, it is fuelling concerns about the job prospects for others in her generation, as India agonises over how to find gainful employment for its booming adult population.

The IT services industry, a totem of India’s increasingly modern, outward-facing economy, has been a powerful driver of skilled job creation over the past three decades, and employs about 4m people.

While the sector continues to add new workers, however, employment growth has been slowing, lagging well behind revenue growth: 150,000 new positions were created in the sector during the last financial year, according to trade body Nasscom, down from 230,000 three years before.

That trend reflects the increasing importance of new fields of business such as data analytics and connected devices, which Nasscom predicts will account for at least 38 per cent of industry revenue by 2025. This cutting-edge work tends to be driven by relatively small numbers of highly specialised workers, unlike the labour-intensive software installation and management work in which the companies first made their mark.

“What we hired last year was less than a year before, and this year will be a bit less again,” says Ajoy Mukherjee, TCS head of human resources. “It’s the story of any automation — technology makes human beings more productive. So revenue per person will go up, and the team size delivering one unit of revenue will go down.

” With 1m young people entering the workforce each month, fears of insufficient job creation loom increasingly large in India. Demand for skilled labour has held up better than for blue-collar workers over the past five years, but “now seems about to conk off comprehensively”, brokerage Ambit Capital warned in February, noting structural shifts in the IT industry as a key factor.

A further shadow over the IT industry has been cast by the election of US President Donald Trump, who has launched a crackdown on the H-1B visa programme for skilled workers as part of his “Hire American” agenda.

But while this reform may weigh on margins, industry executives view the growth of automation and related areas as a more profound long-term shift.

The speed of change means a growing portion of new jobs will be temporary, enabling companies to bring in specialists for a few months as required, says Puneet Bhirani, head of human resources at Mphasis, another IT services company.

And while large numbers of highly skilled jobs could be created in the emerging areas, there are signs that Indian universities are not producing graduates with the relevant training, says Prasar Sharma at Mumbai’s SP Jain School of High Technology.

“Generic coding skills are going out of fashion now. You are required to be adept at data science, machine learning, cyber security . . . But there are zero people formally trained in these things,” Mr Sharma says.

For years, the IT companies themselves have filled gaps left by tertiary education. Infosys has trained more than 100,000 employees at its 23-week residential course in Mysore, which it claims is the world’s largest corporate education programme.

“The industry was acting like an academic institution,” says Vineet Nayar, former chief executive of IT services group HCL Technologies, who warns that reductions in hiring could hurt the country’s skills base.

“The hope for employment is with start-ups,” he says. “But they don’t have the capacity to teach IT skills.

” Job creation in India’s start-up sector — which boomed on a wave of funding in 2014 and 2015 — has stuttered over the past year as investment tailed off.

Even among start-ups little-affected by the volatile funding environment, there are few signs that they are set to substitute for the huge historical job creation potential at the IT services companies.

Like TCS and Infosys, Chennai-based Freshdesk — founded in 2010 — has focused on meeting the IT needs of companies throughout the world. But whereas the established groups started by capitalising on low Indian wages to provide services at low cost, Freshdesk pursued a much less labour-intensive model, creating cloud-based software products for use by customer services and sales teams.

“Services companies were great for India as a way for providing good employment opportunities,” says its founder Girish Mathrubootham. “But the future is going to be about product companies — you can create a lot more value with fewer people. Google has 70,000 employees; TCS has over 300,000. Which would you rather be?”

Read the full article here.

Source: Financial Times

Work From Home In 2017: The Top 100 Companies Offering Remote Jobs

Working from home is increasingly the dream of many a harried employee

But it’s hard to find legitimate work-from-home opportunities that aren’t too-good-to-be-true scams.

FlexJobs, a company that vets all types of flexible job listings including part-time, telecommuting and freelance, today releases the top 100 companies offering telecommuting opportunities in 2017.

The annual list is comprised of the companies that offered the highest number of remote job listings in the FlexJobs database in 2016, out of a total of 47,000 such companies. It includes jobs that allow for telecommuting both part and all of the time. To access these vetted opportunities, the site charges a fee.

Such opportunities seem to be increasing — the percentage of workers doing all or some of their work at home increased from 19% in 2003 to 24% in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among those in management, business, financial operations and professional jobs, the percentage was 35-38%. And 68% of U.S. workers say that they expect to work remotely in the future.

Industries that are most likely to offer remote work include the computer and information technology fields, medical and health, and government and finance. Customer service, education and training and sales also feature a number of telecommuting jobs.

“The results of this year’s list are in line with the overall growth trends we’re observing in the flexible job marketplace, with increasingly diverse companies turning to the ‘TRaD’ (or telecommuting, remote, and distributed) model of work as an integrated business practice,” said Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs.

Among the top 10 companies in this year’s list are Amazon, UnitedHealth, Teletech. See the full list below and at FlexJobs, and compare it to the top 100 companies offering work-from-home jobs in 2016, 2015 and 2014.

Read and see the list here.

Source: Forbes