Although the employment rate of India’s labour force has increased, a recent ILO report suggests that the majority of this growth has happened in the unorganised sector or in blue collar jobs. The emergence of ecommerce and digitisation has led to many job opportunities in this sector – drivers, delivery personnel, security and more. However, there are not many avenues for prospective job-seekers and employers to find each other. Besides a network of friends and acquaintances, they are dependent on placement agencies which are not very reliable. Through his portal JobNukkad, Ankur Mehta is looking to disrupt this space and bridge the service gap.
In conversation with Networked India, Ankur talks about the challenges of job-seekers in the blue collar job market, the role of JobNukkad in solving these problems and how his platform uses technology to aggregate opportunities. As India stands poised to be the labour hub of the world, such portals can open up opportunities for more job-seekers and bring order to this unorganised sector.
Networked India (NI): What motivated you to start JobNukkad? Give us some background into the founding story.
Ankur Mehta (AM): I wanted to become an entrepreneur but only to solve a real problem and a problem that impacts the lives of a large mass of people. We always knew that people belonging to the lower income group find it difficult to search for a job. When we did field research by visiting employers in a few industrial towns and meeting various stakeholders in Mumbai, we came to know that employers face equal difficulty in finding blue collar manpower. The problem is that there is no organised way of discovery for both the parties.
While job portals like Naukri.com came 17 years back, it is unfortunate that there is no similar solution for 90% of India’s working population. We believe that everyone should have a chance to earn a decent livelihood by choosing a job suitable for them. In the last 5 years, India has seen highest growth of mobile internet in the world. This is the right time to disrupt the sector by providing jobs on mobile. That’s how we started with JobNukkad.
NI: What are the particular problems faced by people in the blue collar and entry level jobs space?
AM: Currently, people in this category search for jobs either through their network of family and friends or through placement agencies. Both the methods are highly inefficient. The first one gives them limited options and they end up being unemployed for days together. Secondly, most of the placement agencies dealing in this category charge money from job-seekers without any assurance of job. I have personally met so many job seekers who have been duped by placement agencies.
NI: How does JobNukkad aim to overcome these problems? What are the various services you provide to bridge the gap?
AM: We are using a combination of online and offline methods to solve the problem. Job seekers can apply for jobs on our website and app. We also offer missed call service to register offline job-seekers on our platform. We are also working as an aggregator of placement agencies and freelancers. While we get placement requirements from our clients, agencies registered on our platform work on fulfilment of the positions.
We are also developing a platform for training institutes. Most of the youth are not aware of Government’s schemes whereby they can get vocational training free of cost which improves their employability. Our platform will connect job-seekers with training institutes on one hand and employers with training institutes on the other hand.
NI: In addition to the website, there is also a Tinder-like app. Tell us more about this app and its stand-out features.
AM: While developing the app, we had to be extremely careful about the Target Group which is not so tech-savvy and uses mobile data sparingly. Our app has a very simple and uncluttered interface. It is light in size. Currently, job-seekers can opt for Hindi or English language while we are introducing more language options.
NI: Give us a brief background about the founder of JobNukkad.
AM: I am a Chartered Accountant & Company Secretary and have 9 years’ experience in Private Equity investments. My last assignment was with Tishman Speyer (American PE fund) as Associate Director.
As I come from a very different background, one of the most challenging tasks has been to understand the behavioural pattern of job-seekers and employers in this category. To achieve that, I followed a hands-on approach for a long time and still spend a lot of time meeting various stakeholders.
NI: What kind of feedback have you received from users of JobNukkad’s portal and app? Tell us some success stories.
AM: We have placed people in profiles like housekeepers, maids, patient carers, car washer, security guards. These people are resource-constrained and lack complete, formal education. Although, we have placed people in white collar profiles as well, it gives us more satisfaction when we assist people with fewer resources to find a job.
Generally, people like the ease with which they can apply for multiple jobs and of course the fact that they don’t have to pay for it. We have observed that youngsters are increasingly searching for jobs online while older job-seekers still prefer to use offline methods.
NI: How does the website interface support clients/employers?
AM: Clients who do not wish to take our premium service can post jobs on our website for free. They can shortlist the candidates who apply for their job openings. We have more than 3000 job openings available with us and have paying clients such as CCD, Burger King, Care 24, Home Credit, Birla Sun Life, Tata BSS amongst others.
NI: What challenges did you face in starting up the website and drawing users as well as clients to JobNukkad?
AM: Building a marketplace is challenging as you have to constantly balance the demand and supply. In our case, supply side is more challenging as job seekers are not 100% online. We have had to find innovative methods of marketing to them and building trust among them.
NI: How do you see the blue collar industry growing in the near future? What scope does it have for India’s growing employable population and how does digitisation like job portals and apps aid the growth?
AM: India is the world’s second largest labour market and will become the largest by 2025. Approximately 1.2 crore people will enter the workforce every year for the next 10 years. If we can impart skill training successfully, India has the potential to become a worldwide hub of sourcing labour.
Today, plumbers, electricians, drivers, delivery boys are all using their smartphone to receive orders and improve their incomes. Digitisation has helped bring blue collar workers into the organised segment. Job portals and job apps help them to find best suitable opportunities.
NI: JobNukkad recently secured some funding. Tell us a bit about it and how do you expect it help your future growth plans.
AM: We received a small round of angel funding a few months back. We are using it to strengthen our technology and marketing efforts.
We have recently launched a very innovative feature which will solve one of the major pain points of job seekers in this category. Our product ‘CV Locker’ enables job seekers to share their resume with placement agencies and employers without using mobile data connection. They have to upload it once on our website and with the help of a pass code, they can share it with anyone in future without going online. Uploading and downloading is free. We believe that we are solving a uniquely Indian problem and it requires local innovative solutions.