June 01, 2016

Freelance Work Trends in India, Pakistan, and Singapore

The growth of freelance and contingent work is not limited to the United States. Economies all over the world are seeing surges in freelance work and opportunities. This article hones in on freelancer trends in India, Pakistan, and Singapore.

Freelancer Growth in India

India is home to more than 15 million independent workers, and companies are hiring more freelancers than ever before, according to Truelancer, an online marketplace for freelancers. India is just second to the United States, which has 53 million independent workers as per data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The global market for freelancers is worth $2-3 billion, of which India accounts for $1 billion. The global market has been growing at 14 percent per year for the past few years.

Industry experts point to the rising internet penetration and use of technology for remote work providing people with the opportunity to forgo a regular job as the main reason for this upward trend. Companies, such as Ernst & Young, are also providing specialized contract-based jobs. And for start-ups that cannot afford to hire full-time staff, the growth of freelance work is beneficial. Additional reasons that companies are turning towards freelancers is high wage inflation and the rising costs and complexity of training people and providing infrastructure. Compliance is also an issue.

“We see large organizations retain core teams, and potential leadership talent and use external resources in roles that require hyper specialization and skill sets that are niche and unviable to build internally.” ~Padmaja Alaganandan, Partner and Leader of People & Organization Practice at PwC

Previously the freelance model existed mainly in the services industry. Now it is spreading to all sectors, including fast moving consumer goods and automobiles, as companies tap external talent, including suppliers, distributors and research experts.

Top Skill Areas for Indian Freelancers

Top Skill Areas for Indian Freelancers

Source: Flexing IT

Proliferation of Internet Leading to Freelance Growth in Pakistan

Thanks to the spread of the Internet, freelance work is growing at a constant speed with more than 10,000 IT graduates entering Pakistan’s job market annually. Industry experts say that freelancing has become a large business in the country, and is expanding at an exponential rate. Over the past decade, the talent pool in Pakistan has expanded widely as now almost 16 percent of the younger generation has a college degree. Additionally, Pakistan is considered one of the top two outsourcing destinations in terms of growth, value for money, and customer feedback. 

According to a recent survey, increasing broadband access in Pakistan is accelerating the growth of freelance marketplaces. These online marketplaces help their clients with tools, technologies, and services to source and manage remote work teams and promote collaboration and connection between employers and freelancers. In Pakistan, the growth of access to online tools and services has improved the availability, quality, and affordability of workers.

Economic Uncertainty and Increasing Layoffs Causing Growing Contingent Work in Singapore

In the past year, Singapore has experienced wide high-profile layoffs, especially in the finance and technology sectors. The Singapore Ministry of Manpower has reported that layoffs in the country have increased steadily since 2011, reaching their highest point in five years with 14,400 layoffs recorded in 2015.

In order to quickly and effectively deal with organizational skill gaps that have developed due to the layoffs, more and more companies are turning to contingent workers to fill these positions. Employing contingent workers as opposed to full-time permanent staff allows employers to mitigate risk and remain agile.

In the 2014 Hays Asia Salary Guide it was reported that the number of employers who reported using contract or temporary staff on a regular or ongoing basis increased from 24 to 26 percent year-over-year. For special project work, this percentage was even higher, at 43 percent. The survey also revealed that one in five employers planned to increase their utilization of temporary or contract workers in 2016.

Industries with the highest usage of contingent workers include retail, financial services, healthcare, professional services, and public sector agencies.