Workforce refers to the employable population of a country, city, industry or community. The term is also used in the context of global society. The International Labour Office (ILO), defines workforce, to include everyone over the age of fifteen. United Nations data suggests that in 2018 the global population was 7.6 billion people. ILO data indicates that 3.3 billion people were employed in 2018 and 172 million people were unemployed. The global workforce was 45.68% of the population. Indian population in 2018 was 1.35 billion. The ratio of labour force to population was 50.6%. People engage in Agricultural, Industrial and Service sectors for their livelihood. In 2018 (Global data), the segregation between the three sectors was 26%, 22.4% and 51.6% respectively. There has been a gradual shift in the way people choose occupations. Participation in the Service sector has increased over the decades.
In the 21st century, technological innovations are influencing the way we work, where we work and how we work. The birth of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet is altering the workforce landscape. More people are working from their homes as freelancers or consultants. The work from home option is widely used by writers, website and software developers, business consultants and many other professionals. In the US, thirty-five per cent of the workforce is freelancers. Similar trends are emerging in other developed countries. Several online platforms such as Upwork and Freelancers.com, are receiving increased attention from employers as well as employees. These platforms have millions of registered users and billions of dollars worth of transactions.
We have been using machines and computers to do the tasks of human beings and animals in every walk of life; from cars to robots, processes have got automated and efficient. In the next few years, significant changes are anticipated in the way organisations employ people, as well as use technology in their day to day business. Digitalisation is changing the way in which businesses interact with customers, employees and all other stakeholders.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), which hitherto played a backend role in organisational processes will become the face of the organisation. AI will take automation to the next level. Organisations will employ minimal permanent staff in the future, and AI-based systems will act as an interface between the owners of the organisations and everyone they interact with, including employees, customers, vendors and the society at large. AI will take over more functions and responsibilities and act as a cost effective and efficient alternative to human beings. Organisations will replace full-time employees with contingent staff, and AI will take over the tasks which can be automated.
Workforce Technology is a new concept which originated because of the increasing use of freelancers by organisations. It is a software which allows organisations to manage their contingent staff and integrates them with other departments and functions in the organisation. It can be perceived as a system similar to ERP and CRM but meant for a different segment of the organisation. Several Workforce management technologies are emerging to address the growing demand. Prominent among them are HCM Works, I4CP, Workforce Technologies and Impact Workforce Technology.
India has the second largest freelance workforce in the world, The United States being the first. Over 15 million people or 2% of our workforce are freelancers. Small and Medium businesses, as well as Enterprises, will benefit by hiring more freelancers, in terms of reduction in the cost of employment and infrastructure. It will help to improve the bottom line and allow organisations to utilise their resources more productively. Employees can also take advantage of working from home and avoid the stress and cost of commuting.