Kunal Patil and Moiz Arsiwala are on a Google Meet call from Mumbai. On our shared screen, a number of coloured dots move like magnets, as though attracted to or repelled by each other. There’s a tug-of-war between a big red dot and a cluster of smaller yellow dots. “That big red dot is a placement agent. He’s trying to enter our database. But we’ve identified him,” says Patil triumphantly.

WorkIndia uses the Neo4j graph database platform to find errant placement agents trying to break through its walls

Explore more infographics like this in The Ken -
Visual Stories



For WorkIndia, Arsiwala and Patil’s blue-collar job-matching portal, identifying and eliminating third-party placement agents has been crucial to growth. Agents, claims Patil, often fleece workers with the promise of a job, without actually delivering one. 

Fishing out placement agents is one side of six-year-old WorkIndia’s solution for blue-collar employment. The other is a low-tech, multilingual app to match blue-collar workers with positions that match their skill set, pay grade, and location. The app interface, a cross between a chat and e-commerce app, shows 5-10 jobs on average, on the basis of information provided by the candidate. The platform has a roster of 900,000 employers.

Matching isn’t a straightforward task, says Patil. It has taken WorkIndia the vast majority of its existence to create categories and subcategories to map the gamut of blue- and grey-collar skill sets. For instance, 23 main job profiles will be divided into 95 sub-profiles. “Employers don’t just want a cook. They want someone who can cook Chinese food, specifically,” explains Patil.

The size and opportunity on offer—approximately 250 million job seekers—is undercut by the complexity of the blue-collar job market. There’s little data on applicants, their skill sets, and over 90% of them are employed in the unorganised sector. The link between supply (of workers) and demand (of employers) is completely broken at several places as well. 

The trickiest issue to grapple with, says Patil, was how dynamic this job market is. “In white-collar jobs, both applicant and employer are willing to wait a few days for the match. In the blue-collar segment, the need is immediate,” says Patil. Demand is also scattered, with over 90% of the blue-collar segment being small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), which don’t hire in bulk, and don’t want to spend a high amount on hires. These businesses are also new to the online, structured process of recruitment.

The disaggregated and unpredictable nature of the sector has swallowed previous attempts to organise it. Celebrated startup Babajob Babajob The Ken The blue collar market puts Babajob out of work Read more was one of these casualties, selling out for an undisclosed amount to online classifieds platform Quikr.

AUTHOR

Olina Banerji

Based in Delhi, Olina writes about mega-trends in urban mobility, education, skilling and the environment, with a focus on how institutions and innovations can help cities grow sustainably. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics, and has worked previously with India Today and global non-profit Ashoka.

View Full Profile

Read this story. Subscribe Now

This story is available across both editions. Subscribe to the one that’s most relevant for you. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at [email protected] with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.