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18 million Indians will switch careers by 2030 due to covid-19

The most vulnerable will be workers without a college education, women and other minority groups, and young people, says new McKinsey report

By 2030, nearly 100 million workers worldwide may need to shift from their current occupation (Wikimedia Commons)

The pandemic has changed our relationship with work irrevocably—we know this but a new study estimated that 18 million workers in India will change their occupation in the next decade, all because of the novel coronavirus.

Worldwide, about 100 million workers may need to shift from their current occupation in the next decade due to the impact of covid-19, states The Future of Work after Covid19, the first of a three-part report by McKinsey Global Institute to understand the long-term impact of the pandemic on the global economy.

The most vulnerable will be workers who don’t have a college education, women and other minority groups, and young people, it says. The report focused on eight countries—India, China, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, UK and US—as they have a diverse labour market and economy.

For India, the work disruption caused by the pandemic is likely to be short term, but the labour market will feel the repercussions for far longer than any other country. The report estimates that India’s labour force will grow 14% in the next decade. Most sectors, except agriculture, will see growth. For obvious reasons, occupations in healthcare will see the highest decadal growth, followed by arts management, wellness, and STEM. The report also states predicts the increase in the number of workers (1.8 million) in agriculture, the highest among all occupations, by 2030.

“It’s not a good sign for India as fewer transitions happen across jobs. For us, people need to transition out of agriculture, as the income levels are higher and the job growth is healthier in other occupations. So, it’s important for us to double down on reform and actions that boost jobs,” said Anu Madgavkar, co-author and partner at the institute.

While many people have been trying to upskill in the past year, those working as product promoters, retail salespersons, production helpers, tellers, office clerks, data entry operators, insurance underwriters and legal assistants will have to acquire new skills, the report states.

Automation is unlikely to have a huge impact in India, the report predicts. The study notes that the difference in displacement due to automation is incremental–from 48.3 million jobs to 51.5 million jobs–pre and post covid. Similarly, the number of workers (1.3 million) who will lose jobs due to the rise of ecommerce and the digital based economy is only slightly higher (1.6 million). According to Madgavkar, the Indian ecommerce sector saw double the growth since the pandemic, while it was two to four times in advanced countries.

Considering it’s a decade long prediction, the report urged policymakers to prioritise efforts to make digital infrastructure accessible, and help workers who will face job transition.

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