India's Workforce in a Time of Transformation


India is now the world's most populous country and boasts the fastest-growing major economy globally. At the same time its workforce is expanding exponentially, rising from around 460 million people in 2017-18 to roughly 560 million in 2022-23. At this time of immense change and growth in India, its workforce is undergoing a significant transformation.

This article explores three key trends shaping India's employment landscape, namely: the influence of technology and AI, the rise of the gig economy and the increasing participation of women in the workforce. 


Technology and AI


India has experienced remarkable growth in the technology and fintech sectors in recent years, with the adoption of QR codes, contactless payments and rapid card tractions leading to the creation of many jobs in small and medium size businesses. This tech boom reflects India's adaptability and its potential to thrive in the future, however, as businesses embrace new technologies, the need for upskilling and reskilling becomes imperative. Technology can also have a negative effect For example, earlier this year it was reported that digital payments company Paytm would lay off thousands of employees from its operations, sales and engineering teams due to what it said was “AI-powered automation” aimed at cutting employee costs by 10% - 15%. Empowering the workforce with the necessary skills to adopt these innovations will lead to more long term sustainable growth, meaning India can harness the potential of technology to uplift those reliant on low-wage jobs and create a more equitable and sustainable job market.


Gig economy


A 2020 report from the Boston Consulting Group projected a 200% jump in India's gig workforce by 2030. This surge in the gig economy is fuelled by a confluence of factors. Technological advancements have created online platforms connecting businesses with independent workers for short-term projects or tasks. This flexibility is particularly attractive to young Indians seeking greater control over their work-life balance or supplementing their income. Furthermore, the growing e-commerce sector has driven demand for delivery and logistics services, creating a large pool of gig workers.  This trend holds immense potential for India's economic growth, but questions regarding social security benefits and worker protections remain to be addressed.


Women and the workforce


The number and role of women in the workforce in India is undergoing a transformation. The proportion of Indian women in work rose from around 27% in 2012 to 34% in 2024. While participation rates are on the rise, they remain far lower than men's (employment rates are around 89% for Indian men). Traditionally, societal expectations led to a significant proportion of women being tied to domestic duties resulting in the unpaid domestic work not being accounted for in the economy. However, a growing number of women are entering the workforce, particularly in sectors like education, healthcare, and IT. This trend is driven by factors such as increased educational attainment and a growing demand for skilled workers. Challenges, however, persist including limited access to childcare, gender pay gaps, and social stigmas. Bridging these gaps will be crucial to fully unlocking the potential of women in India's economic development.




India's rapidly growing workforce presents both challenges and opportunities. By embracing advancements in technology, establishing regulations for the gig economy and fostering a more inclusive environment for women, India can harness this transformation to propel its economic development. Howard Kennedy's India group recognises these are complex issues and works alongside entrepreneurial companies and individuals across the world to navigate these rapidly evolving trends. 

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