Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

Skills for the
Planetary Labour Market:
Indian Workers in the
Platform Economy
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

    Table of Contents
    1.     List of Abbreviations                                             3

    2.     List of Boxes, Figures and Tables                                 3

    3.     Introduction and Summary                                          4
    3.1.   Key Findings                                                      4
    3.2.   Policy Recommendations for Development Cooperation                7

    4.      Research Context                                                 8
    4.1.    Cloudwork and the Planetary Labour Market                        8
    4.2.    Skills for Cloudwork                                             9
    4.3.    Platform Workforces in India                                     11
    4.4.    Skills Training Systems in India                                 12

    5.      Methods                                                          16
    5.1.    Research Questions                                               16
    5.2.    Research Design                                                  15
    5.3.    Sample                                                           18

    6.      Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic                                 19
    6.1.    The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impacts on Cloudworkers and Cloudwork    19
    6.2.    Interpreting Research Findings                                   22

    7.      Developing Skills for Cloudwork                                  23
    7.1.    Useful Skills for Cloudwork                                      24
    7.2.    Skills Developed on-the-job                                      24
    7.3.    Skills Developed during Leisure Time                             25
    7.4.    Learning Activities                                              29

    8.      Strategies and Obstacles for Skills Development                  32
    8.1.    Self-directed vs Collaborative Learning Activities               32
    8.2.    Obstacles to Undertaking Skills Development                      34
    8.3.    Strategies to Overcome Obstacles                                 35

    9.      The Platform Economy and Skills Training                         37
    9.1.    Cloudwork and the Indian Skills Ecosystem                        37
    9.2.    Continuities and Discontinuities                                 42

    10.     Conclusion: Policy Recommendations for Development Cooperation   49

    11.     Appendix A: Methodology Note                                     54

    12.     Credits and Funding                                              62

    13.     References                                                       63
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

1. List of Abbreviations                                    2. List of Boxes, Figures and Tables

BMZ       Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and
          Development (Germany)                             Boxes

CEO       Chief Executive Officer
                                                            In Focus: Platform Profile Ratings
DGT       Directorate General of Training                   In Focus: Working while Having Caring Responsibilities
FAQ       Frequently Asked Questions

GDP       Gross Domestic Product                            Figures
GIZ       Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
          Zusammenarbeit GmbH                               Figure 1.     The Distribution of the Indian Internet Users
                                                                          by Gender and Age in 2019
HIT       Human Intelligence Task (a task on Amazon
                                                            Figure 2.     Yearly Central Government Budget Allocation
          Mechanical Turk)
                                                                          for Skills Development
HR        Human Relations
                                                            Figure 3.     Geographic Distribution of Survey Respondents
ILO       International Labour Organisation                 Figure 4.     Sign-ups on Cloudwork Platforms during the
IT        Information Technologies                                        COVID-19 Pandemic
                                                            Figure 5.     Time Spent on Cloudwork Platforms during the
ITeS      Information Technology Enabled Services
                                                                          COVID-19 Pandemic
ITI       Industrial Training Institute
                                                            Figure 6.     Skill Categories Perceived Useful for Work on
MSDE      Ministry of Skill Development and                               the Platform
          Entrepreneurship                                  Figure 7.     Skill Categories Developed while Working on the
MTurk     Amazon Mechanical Turk                                          Platform
                                                            Figure 8.     Skill Categories Developed during Leisure Time
NASSCOM   National Association of Software and Service
          Companies                                         Figure 9.     Learning Activities Undertaken by Workers
                                                            Figure 10.    Learning Activities that Workers were Unable to
NCVET     National Council of Vocational Education and
                                                            Figure 11.    Screenshot from the eSkill India Portal Website
NGO       Non-Governmental Organisation
                                                            Figure 12.    Attitudes about the Indian Government
NSDC      National Skill Development Corporation
                                                            Figure 13.    Screenshot from Upwork Blog
NSQF      National Skills Qualification Framework           Figure 14.    Screenshot from Freelancer Website
PLU       Platform-led Upskilling                           Figure 15.    Screenshot from the GigIndia Website

PM        Prime Minister                                    Figure 16.    Mixed-Methods Research Design
                                                            Figure 17.    Sample Characteristics
PMKVY     Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana

RASCI     Retailers Association’s Skill Council of India

SSC       Sector Skill Council

TVET      Technical and Vocational Education and Training   Table 1.      Summary of Included Platforms
UNESCO    United Nations Educational, Scientific and        Table 2.      Platform and Gender Distribution of Survey
          Cultural Organization                                           Respondents

UNEVOC    UNESCO International Centre for Technical and     Table 3.      Typology of Skills
          Vocational Education and Training                 Table 4.      Typology of Learning Activities

UNFPA     United Nations Population Fund                    Table 5.      Platforms, Informal Work and Vocational
                                                                          Training: Implications for TVET
WEF       World Economic Forum
                                                            Table 6.      Overview of Stakeholder Interview Participants
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

    3. Introduction
                                                                             Methodologically, we structure our
                                                                             empirical inquiry of the five research
                                                                             questions around a mixed-methods

    and Summary                                                              research approach, combining quantitative
                                                                             and qualitative methods to collect and
                                                                             analyze our data. The qualitative phase
                                                                             included semi-structured interviews
    With 560 million internet users, India is the second
                                                                             with 12 leading TVET stakeholders,
    largest digital market in the world. People between                      including experts from India’s National
    20 and 39 years of age represent just over half of the                   Skill Development Cooperation and
    country’s internet users. This means that workers                        sector skill councils, as well as platform
    located in India may overcome some of the constraints                    managers, among others. We additionally
                                                                             carried out 31 in-depth interviews with
    of their local labour markets by using digital labour
                                                                             Indian platform workers. The quantitative
    platforms to take part in a planetary labour market. So,                 phase involved the development of a
    for many of these young internet users, digital labour                   novel survey instrument, which was
    platforms provide an essential income and much-                          administered to over 400 Indian platform

    needed opportunity to improve their livelihoods. Given                   workers across four platforms, and
                                                                             representing the two different types of
    the potentially important job opportunities offered
                                                                             cloudwork: microwork and freelancing. We
    by this planetary labour market, there is a need to                      included one microwork platform (Amazon
    understand how Indian workers view and expand their                      Mechanical Turk) and three freelancing
    skills portfolios in relation to their platform work, and                platforms—which included two global
                                                                             platforms (Upwork and Freelancer) and
    unveil the points of leverage where existing training
                                                                             one Indian platform (Truelancer).
    initiatives by governmental, private and third-sector
    actors may need to be adapted to meet their needs.                       Before presenting our empirical
                                                                             evidence, we first set the stage for our

    This report focuses on five key research                                 study by situating it vis-a-vis relevant
                                                                             literature and insights on the relationship
    questions:                                                               between cloudwork platforms and skills
                                                                             development in India, in section 4. We
    1. What are the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indian               pay particular attention to defining
       cloudworkers and the cloudwork landscape?                             cloudwork and skills for cloudwork,
                                                                             discussing the demographics of India’s
    2. What skills are particularly relevant for cloudworkers in India and   platform workforce, and introducing the
       how are they acquired?                                                country’s extant skills training systems.
                                                                             We distinguish between government-led
    3. What factors support or limit cloudworkers in acquiring the skills    skills training, platform-led skills training,
       they need for their work, and what strategies do they use to          private skills training, and skills training
       overcome obstacles?                                                   beyond organisations.

    4. What connections and interactions exist between the platform          On that basis, we describe the impacts
       economy, informal work and skills training?                           that the COVID-19 pandemic has had
                                                                             on Indian cloudworkers (RQ1) in section
    5. What conclusions can be drawn for future skills training              6. In section 7, we elucidate which skills
       approaches, in particular for development cooperation?                are particularly relevant for cloudwork in
                                                                             India while investigating the differences
                                                                             across the four platforms and between
                                                                             women and men (RQ2). Section 8 closely
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

examines what factors support or                  will grow in importance compared to               Upwork focusing on learning skills, and
constrain cloudworkers in acquiring the           traditional employment arrangements               MTurk workers spending their leisure
skills they have identified as important to       as a result of the pandemic. This                 time developing computer literacy and
develop for their work and what strategies        corresponds with the finding that                 analytical skills.
they employ in order to overcome                  more companies are beginning to
obstacles (RQ3). In section 9, we outline         outsource parts of their business             •   Similarly, differences in skill
the connections between the platform              operations to temporarily engaged                 development between genders were
economy, informal work, and skills training       cloudworkers.                                     also somewhat more pronounced
(RQ4). Section 10 draws conclusions                                                                 for skills developed during leisure
from the findings and offers practical                                                              time than during cloudwork. Women
recommendations for development               3.1.2. Skills for Cloudwork                           were slightly more likely to develop
cooperation, as well as to inform the                                                               both hard and soft skills on each
emerging policy landscape that governs        •   Indian cloudworkers find a variety                platform while working, with the gap
cloudwork in India (RQ5).                         of skills to be useful for their                  somewhat wider when considering
                                                  work on online labour platforms.                  communication and organizational
3.1. Key Findings                                 Communication skills, technical skills,           skills. During leisure time female survey
                                                  platform-related skills, and learning             respondents focused on language skills,
                                                  skills are particularly valued.                   computer literacy, and organizational
3.1.1. Impacts of COVID-19 on                                                                       skills, while the men tended to focus
                                              •   Indian cloudworkers tend to develop               on improving communication, analytical,
                                                  different kinds of skills during their            and technical skills.
                                                  work on platforms and during leisure
•   Since the pandemic started, there
    has been a marked surge in new
                                                  time. Respondents indicated a greater         •   Respondents reported that their
                                                  overall focus on soft skills developed            rationales for on- and off-platform
    sign-ups on cloudwork platforms.
                                                  during cloudwork with communication               skills development varied, as
    Across platforms, 18% of the survey
                                                  skills, personal dispositions, and                skills developed while working are
    respondents reported that they only
                                                  organizational skills being developed             either needed to complete the job
    started working on the platform
                                                  at least weekly by over 80% of the                successfully or otherwise directly
    where they were surveyed after
                                                  respondents. During leisure time                  benefit platform work, but developing
    the pandemic started, often due to
                                                  respondents instead focused on                    skills during leisure time entails a
    difficult circumstances that arose as a
                                                  developing technical skills and learning          further investment of resources into
    result of the pandemic.
                                                  skills, as well as platform-related skills.       training skills that are more challenging
•   62% of veteran cloudworkers reported                                                            to develop during platform work,
    that they are spending more time
                                              •   While the board patterns of skill                 but which have expected utility for
                                                  development are related across the                platform work.
    working or looking for work since the
                                                  four platforms, we saw more variation
    pandemic started—though workers’
    ability to dedicate more time to
                                                  between platforms in terms of skills          •   Across platforms, workers had similar
                                                  developed during leisure time than                motivations for developing skills:
    platform work may be constrained
                                                  with skills developed on-the-job.                 for instance whereas technical skills
    by their working environment, caring
                                                  During cloudwork, the workers on                  were developed with an expectation
    responsibilities, etc.
                                                  MTurk tend to differ in relation to the           of leading to more clients and higher
                                                  workers on the other three platforms,             paying jobs, languages were developed
•   A recurring experience that survey
                                                  developing language skills and                    with the hope of facilitating finding
    respondents and interviewees from
                                                  computer literacy relatively more often           work and building a better rapport
    across all platforms reported was that
                                                  and technical skills and most soft skills         with clients.
    they were facing substantially more
                                                  less often than the workers on other
    competition, and were able to secure
                                                  platforms. During leisure time the
    fewer jobs, during this past year.
                                                  focus of skill development varies more
                                                  with workers on Truelancer tending
•   79% of all survey respondents agreed
                                                  to focus on soft skills, workers on
    or strongly agreed that cloudwork
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

    3.1.3. Strategies and                             enable them to locate and access             others. Platforms do often
    Obstacles for Skills                              low-cost learning activities that            have mechanisms for workers
    Development                                       align with their goals.                      to showcase their skills on their
                                                                                                   profiles, but portability of platform-
    •   Workers face significant challenges       •   Survey respondents were also                 specific skills credentials (as well as
        accessing and undertaking learning            asked to reflect on the reasons              work history and ratings) is limited,
        activities, particularly in the absence       why they were unable to undertake            and leads to ‘locking in’ workers onto
        of support from platforms. Since              some of the learning activities they         particular platforms.
        cloudwork can be highly independent,          indicated they wanted to take. Time
        the exchange of tacit knowledge, like         emerged as the central constraint        •   Whether workers can make use of
        strategies for managing cloudwork             to undertaking learning activities           their “off-platform” experiences
        through on-platform interaction               across all platforms. Time in these          and their educational background
        can be limited. Platforms tend to be          instances referred to several issues         to increase their success “on-
        designed to support individualised,           including a lack of time due to caring       platform” depends on a variety of
        not collaborative work. Furthermore,          responsibilities and the need to             aspects: the platform interface and
        learning outside of platform work             make an income. This was followed            its work allocation method; the type
        hours can come at a high cost to              closely by financial constraints to          of task or gig; the expectations of
        workers who are aware of the                  undertaking paid activities or missing       clients; and the form of education
        trade-off between investment                  work opportunities. Another key              or experience. There is no simple
        and income, one that does not                 issue was a lack of information and          answer to the question of how
        always even out. The willingness to           awareness of potential places to             education and experience shape,
        invest in developing skills in leisure        undertake learning activities, which         and are shaped by, the interactions
        time can be tied to the limited               was also linked to a lack of time to         between platforms, informal work
        development opportunities offered             look for these resources as well as          and skills training, requiring tailored
        by platforms, and is indeed one area          a lack of guidance and mentorship.           evidence-based solutions for
        where workers expressed significant           Together, these three reasons were           building one’s profile when joining
        interest in having the third sector           given, in combination or alone, by           and fostering upskilling on the basis
        provide support.                              the majority survey respondents              of different platform types.
                                                      when asked why they were unable
    •   Respondents reported generally                to undertake the learning activities     •   Irrespective of workers’ education and
        favouring self-directed learning              despite expressing an interest in            background and significant differences
        activities over collaborative learning        doing so.                                    between platforms when it comes to
        activities. Among the groups of                                                            reputation systems a common theme
        learning activities, workers engaged                                                       to emerge from these interviews is
                                                  3.1.4. The Platform Economy                      therefore the need for a standard,
        most often in individual self-
                                                  and Skills Training                              preferably platform-specific, skills
        directed learning activities and in
        platform-specific learning activities.                                                     training course that provides basic
                                                  •   While skills development is a key            information about profile building.
        Taking paid online courses, webinars
                                                      priority for the Indian government,          Against the backdrop of workers’
        or tutorials was a specific challenge,
                                                      cloudworkers have been a blind spot          lived experiences, it’s vital to improve
        and one that was also particularly
                                                      in government-led TVET approaches.           the portability of their profiles and
        felt by women survey respondents.
                                                      There are numerous initiatives               reputation or create external portals
        Even when respondents indicated
                                                      spread across the Indian skills              in which workers can show off their
        the desire to undertake learning
                                                      ecosystem aiming to impart digital           qualifications and experiences, without
        activities, they faced challenges
                                                      skills, but none of them specifically        being restricted to one particular digital
        finding the financial and logistical
                                                      target cloudworkers, nor impart              labour platform.
        support to develop skills, an
                                                      platform-specific skills.
        investment that workers did not
        always feel able to make. This may
        indicate that workers require more
                                                  •   Platforms engage in very limited
                                                      direct skills training, though
        structural forms of support to
                                                      some platforms do more than
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

3.2. Policy Recommendations for Development Cooperation

1. Engage with, and encourage the growth of, cloudworker networks and communities.

2. Convince platforms to support and invest in cloudworkers’ skills development.

3. Support the adjustment of existing institutional mechanisms to better cater for cloudworkers.

4. Support the creation of platform-specific training courses.

5. Advocate for a jurisdiction-spanning policy environment that would improve cloudworkers’ access to
   skills development.

6. Include access to skills development for cloudworkers in legislative action to foster due diligence in
   global supply chains.

7. Support further research and develop pedagogical tools to share knowledge about cloudwork.

  An Upwork worker at her
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

    4. Research Context
                                                                                                                  4.1.1. Selective Formalisation

                                                                                                                  Cloudwork must be situated in an
                                                                                                                  empirical context in which huge numbers

    4.1. Cloudwork and
                                                            When referring to platforms, it is vital              of workers around the world are engaged
                                                            to be clear about definitions. Different
    the Planetary Labour                                    ideas of what platforms are and what
                                                                                                                  in non-standard and vulnerable forms
                                                                                                                  of employment characterized by low pay
    Market                                                  they do entail various assumptions                    and no social protection—accounting
                                                            about what development actors should                  for two billion people, or almost
    There are now over 50 million platform                  do about them. In other words, how we                 two thirds of the global workforce
    workers who live all over the world,                    define platforms doesn’t just shape                   (ILO, 2021). Standard employment is
    doing work that is outsourced via digital               our analytical perspectives but also our              traditionally defined as work that is
    labour platforms or apps. It has been                   policy repertoire. In this report, we focus           full-time, indefinite, and that includes
    predicted that by 2025, one-third of all                on the second type of platform work,                  statutory benefits and entitlements. In
    labour transactions will be mediated                    cloudwork, and therefore use the term                 many places, including India, cloudwork
    by digital labour platforms (Standing,                  ‘cloudworkers’ to refer to people who find            is typically regarded as less secure
    2016). A ‘digital labour platform’ is a                 work remotely through labour-broking                  than standard employment, owing to
    company that uses digital resources                     cloudwork platforms, regardless of their              the overwhelming proportion of self-
    to mediate value-creating labour                        employment status (e.g. employees                     employed workers on these platforms.
    interactions between consumers and                      or independent contractors).1 Digital                 This status quo frequently leaves
    individual service-providing workers.                   platforms like Airbnb or eBay—where                   workers poorly integrated into social
                                                            goods are exchanged—or social media                   protection schemes, uncovered by key
                                                            platforms like Instagram are explicitly               labour law legislation governing minimum
    Digital labour platforms include two
                                                            not included within this definition.                  wages, unable to collectively bargain,
    broad types (Woodcock & Graham,
    2019). In the first, geographically-                                                                          and with limited opportunities for skills
                                                            Cloudwork has also been called                        development—all things that may be
    tethered work, platforms require a
                                                            ‘crowdwork’, ‘online gig work’, and ‘online           acutely dangerous for the economically
    job to be done in a particular place
                                                            freelancing’ (Schwellnus et al., 2019). A             precarious (Heeks et al., 2020).
    (e.g. delivering food to an apartment
                                                            common denominator of all these labels
    or driving a person from one part of
                                                            is that digital labour platforms are seen             Research shows that cloudwork
    town to another). As Shyamal Majumdar,
                                                            to be functioning as cross-jurisdictional             platforms exacerbate particular
    Former Head of the UNESCO-UNEVOC
                                                            infrastructures that mediate labour                   features of informal work by carefully
    International Centre for Technical and
                                                            transactions, bringing together workers               deploying narratives of flexibility,
    Vocational Education and Training, puts
                                                            in one country with clients anywhere on               freedom, and entrepreneurship while
    it, these location-based types of work
                                                            the planet. Some commentators have                    systematically devolving social and
    ‘are executed in real world and locally but
                                                            promoted platform-mediated forms of                   economic risks onto workers, and
    channeled through online independent
                                                            labour transactions and value creation                positioning themselves as neutral
    contracts.’ Cloudwork, in contrast, is
                                                            as a solution to reducing structural and              intermediaries (Donner et al., 2019;
    work that can, in theory, be performed
                                                            geographic inequalities by fostering                  Anwar & Graham, 2020; ILO, 2021).
    from anywhere via the internet. This
                                                            inclusive development around the world                That is, platforms formalise certain
    means that cloudworkers located in
                                                            (Schwab, 2017). However, acting as a                  aspects of informal work by centralising
    India can use digital labour platforms
                                                            counterweight to this optimism, a rich                exchange between workers and
    to take part in a ‘planetary labour
                                                            body of qualitative and quantitative                  clients while perpetuating the
    market’ (Graham & Anwar, 2019) and
                                                            research has pointed to troubling                     precarity associated with informal
    may overcome some of the constraints
                                                            features of cloudwork, including:                     labour markets—a phenomenon
    of their local labour markets. Cloudwork
                                                            selective formalisation, exploitative                 that van Doorn (2020) has called
    tends to be less well-known compared
                                                            working conditions, and oversupply of                 ‘selective formalisation.’ At the same
    to more visible and urban forms of
                                                            labour (Graham et al., 2017; Anwar &                  time, cloudwork deviates from other
    platform work.
                                                            Graham, 2020).                                        types of work in that it is difficult to

        We will use the terms cloudworker, platform worker, and worker interchangeably throughout the document.
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

contain within clearly defined, and         of working conditions on cloudwork         same freelancer platforms are careful
conventionally articulated, occupational    platforms along five dimensions of         to frame payment for platform
standards and job roles.                    work quality—pay, conditions, contracts,   workers as optional (Graham & Anwar,
                                            management and representation              2019). prominently notes on
                                            (Fairwork, n.d.). An upcoming report       their website: ‘Pay only for a job well
4.1.2. Exploitative Working                 (Fairwork, 2021) that surveys working      done.’ similarly states:
Conditions                                  conditions on major cloudwork              ‘Upwork…helps ensure that an hour
                                            platforms across the world, echoes the     paid is an hour worked’. Platforms put
While cloudwork platforms are               findings from previous research that       effort into highlighting the ephemeral
frequently celebrated for their             the cloudwork model can frequently         temporalities of the labour relationship
ability to offer workers access to a        result in poor working conditions.         to clients, and workers are often seen
global clientele and expanded work          However, it also notes importantly that    as an anonymous, replaceable group
opportunities, this can give rise to        there exists a diversity of platform       that can be brought together with their
working conditions that are frequently      models, with some cloudwork platforms      clients rather seamlessly.
characterized by long and irregular         implementing policies to ensure fair
working hours, high levels of stress, and   working conditions, and others falling     In this study, we focus on a particular
other detrimental psychosocial risks        short.                                     dimension of cloudwork: the
and hazards (Wood et al., 2018; Berg,                                                  relationship between skills development
2016; Berg et al., 2018). Due to their                                                 and digital labour platforms. This
access to a huge number of spatially        4.1.3. Oversupply of Labour                intersection is highly relevant because
dispersed workers, cloudwork platforms                                                 it relates to all three features
are sensitive to the fact that their        With a planetary labour market linking     mentioned above. It is hard now to
clients need some mechanism to be able      together billions of people, most of       imagine a world without some form
to trust that workers—who are often         whom live in low- and middle-income        of digital intermediaries that bring
on the other side of the planet—are         countries, we have a system of truly       together workers and clients. For this
indeed doing the work that they are         planetary competition (Graham              reason, the task of understanding
paying for. Platforms’ solution to this     and Anwar 2019). In an already             cloudwork is pivotal for anticipating
trust issue is sometimes an automated       largely unregulated labour landscape,      future challenges in the world of
surveillance system, for example            cloudwork may further erode workers’       work—particularly skills development
which captures screenshots from             structural power and fuel intense          in an informal, and perhaps precarious,
workers’ computers at random intervals,     competition between workers, in a          context. Before presenting the results
contributing to stressful working           digitally mediated marketplace that        in sections 6-9, we will situate and
conditions. Most platforms additionally     makes workers more easily replaceable      contextualise our research questions
employ ratings-based performance            (Huws, 2014). For almost all types of      by discussing skills for cloudwork, the
management systems whereby clients          digital work, there are fewer jobs than    demographics of platform workforces
can ‘rate’ workers. Such ratings            there are workers able and willing to do   in India, and skills training systems.
systems can be opaque and arbitrary,        them, creating an oversupply of labor
especially when they are based on           that drives a global race to the bottom
                                                                                       4.2. Skills for
algorithmic decisions, thus contributing    (Graham & Anwar, 2019). This means
to the psychosocial risks and hazards of    that when competing for jobs and tasks,
platform work.                              workers are well aware that others may
                                            underbid them.                             The skills and abilities required for
There are several ways to conceptualise                                                cloudwork are impacted by larger
the fairness of working conditions          Cloudwork platforms are also careful       transformations that have taken place
on cloudwork platforms (Harmon &            to frame what does and does not            over recent decades. The changing
Silberman, 2019; Whiting et al., 2019;      count as working time. Indeed, one         nature and organization of work
Graham et al., 2020). The Oxford            study found that online freelancers        combined with the accelerating speed
Internet Institute’s Fairwork Project       spend an average of 16 hours a week        of technological change have had
(of which the authors are members)          (unpaid) looking for new jobs (Wood        diverse impacts on societies around
periodically assesses the fairness          et al., 2019). At the same time, those     the world. As jobs have shifted from
                                                                                       manufacturing and agriculture to the
Skills for the Planetary Labour Market: Indian Workers in the Platform Economy - Fairwork

     service, communication, transportation,      facilities for importing professional or     basis. Immigrants and women reported
     and creative sectors, and alternative        educational histories from outside, or       developing their skills while doing
     work arrangements have become more           to export profile information from the       cloudwork more often than men.
     common, labour markets have come to          platform, securing job opportunities
     demand and reward different skill sets       largely operates through algorithms          Due to the scarcity of research in this
     than they did in the past (Ojanperä          matching workers to available jobs,          area, little is known about the skill
     et al., 2018). Many jobs call for human      relying on platform-generated metrics        acquisition of Indian cloudworkers.
     capital and involve cognitive and socio-     to rank search results and sort              Based on interviews carried out with
     emotional skills as well as adaptability     submitted bids and applications. In          32 MTurk workers in 2013 in India,
     and resilience. The introduction of new      order to succeed on these platforms—         Gupta (2017) identifies particular
     technologies has permeated both              i.e. to win bidding contests for projects    skills developed by these cloudworkers,
     innovative sectors that are driven by        and acquire favourable reviews from          including communication skills,
     technological development as well as         employer—workers must familiarize            language skills, and technical skills.
     more traditional sectors where new           themselves with and learn to utilize         Investigating various platform-led
     technologies have been integrated into       a wide array of practical skills and         upskilling initiatives across 13 cloud-
     existing practices, thus demanding           strategies ranging from communication        based and geographically tethered
     the ability to navigate software and         etiquette with often foreign clients         platforms in Africa and Asia, Donner
     hardware (Sudakov et al., 2016).             to financial considerations about            et al., (2019) find training content
                                                  budgeting and bidding for jobs with          types to generally include technical
     The emergence of the platform                remuneration levels that are neither         skills, general digital literacy, financial
     economy offers unique opportunities          too low to be suspicious nor too high        literacy, platform proficiency, and
     and challenges in terms of professional      to be discouraging, to navigating the        soft skills. Interviewing 24 Indian
     skills and education. The multitude of       many platform functionalities that are       freelancers working on Elance-oDesk
     different kinds of platforms host a          subject to frequent revision as the          (since renamed to Upwork), D’Cruz &
     great diversity of job opportunities with    platform updates its interface.              Noronha (2016) respondents generally
     varying levels of required skills—ranging                                                 reported being able to utilize and
     from the microtasks offered by Amazon        There is little research so far on the       develop their skills while working on
     Mechanical Turk, to the freelancing work     kinds of skills that workers use or          the platform. Surveying the attitudes
     offered in a range of sectors by Upwork,     develop for their work on the platform.      of cloudworkers in India and Sri Lanka,
     Freelancer, or Fiverr, to legal work         Surveying European freelancers,              Bandaranayake et al. (2020) noted
     offered by sector-specific platforms like    Cedefop (2020)—an agency supporting          that women generally have positive
     UpCounsel. While cloudwork platforms         development of European vocational           attitudes towards cloudwork, but are
     differ in the kinds of work that are         education and training policies—             forced to take on smaller projects due
     available through them, they defy the        developed a typology of 10 skills that       to the time constraints of their caring
     mechanisms of more traditional labour        cloudworkers tend to develop while           duties.
     markets by challenging the importance        working on platforms. They note that
     of formal education qualifications and       successful cloudworkers are already
     rather compensating for metrics of           in possession of strong digital skills,
     expertise and success on the platform        technical skills related to the kind
     in the form of a profile history of          of work they do, communication and
     completed jobs and favourable ratings        organizational skills, and positive
     (Herrmann et al., 2019). Relatedly,          personal dispositions such as
     formal educational qualifications are        confidence and resilience, before
     often designed to deliver a fixed set of     they start working on a platform. The
     skills and knowledge, agility for learning   majority of the survey respondents
     and a mentality for life-long learning       reported that they did not further
     while emphasizing labour-market              develop their digital skills while working
     related content to a lesser extent.          on platforms, but two-thirds continued
     Given their nature as self-contained         developing their professional and
     marketplaces for work with limited           technical skills at least on a weekly

       4.3. Platform
                                                                                     Whereas agriculture formed the base                 by the Online Labour Observatory, the
                                                                                     of India’s economic activity three                  report notes a growth in India’s share
       Workforces in India                                                           decades ago, employment has been                    of the labour supply on these platforms
                                                                                     steadily shifting towards industry                  from 26% in 2018 to 34% in 2020.
       Given the potentially important job                                           and services, which together account                The country also provides the fifth-
       opportunities offered by platforms,                                           for over half of employment in 2016                 largest share of labour demand, having
       there is a need to understand how                                             and contribute approximately 95% to                 increased from 5% in 2018 to 8% in
       Indian platform workers view their skill                                      gross value-added (Fairwork, 2020).                 2020. The jobs posted by clients based
       portfolios in relation to their platform                                      The country has a large population of               in India tend to mainly concern roles in
       work, and where existing training                                             highly educated English speakers, and               software development and technology,
       initiatives may need to be amended with                                       earning a livelihood from cloud-based               creative and multimedia, writing and
       novel resources. The emergence of the                                         gigs is an opportunity that appeals                 translation, and sales and marketing
       platform economy and an associated                                            to many Indians. In a country with                  support. The jobs carried out by Indian
       rise in the platform workforce has                                            a working-age population of nearly                  workers also mainly include tasks in
       certainly been met with both policy and                                       900 million (Office of the Registrar                software development and technology,
       research interest in India. Estimates by                                      General and Census Commissioner,                    creative and multimedia, and sales and
       the Indian Readership Survey (MRUC,                                           2018) job creation is a key issue, in               marketing support, with the proportion
       2020) suggest that with 560 million                                           particular for the younger cohorts                  of jobs carried out within the two first
       internet users, India is the second                                           joining the workforce, which grows by               categories increasing over the two-year
       largest digital market in the world. With                                     approximately one million new workers               period.
       people between 20 and 39 years of                                             every month.
       age representing just over half of the                                                                                            The ILO report also analyzed the gender
       country’s internet users (Figure 1). Men                                      While it is difficult to estimate the size of       of a random sample of workers from
       make up two-thirds of the country’s                                           the Indian cloud-based workforce, the               the Online Labour Observatory across
       internet users, with the gender gap                                           ILO (2021) assessed the distribution of             occupational categories and found that
       being more marked in rural areas (Figure                                      the global cloudwork supply and demand              Indian women accounted for about a
       1). For many of these young internet                                          on four major cloudwork platforms,                  fifth of the country’s labour supply
       users, platforms provide an essential                                         finding India to be the largest supplier            across the four platforms, which is
       income and much-needed opportunity                                            of labour on Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, and          lower than the other countries included
       to improve their livelihoods.                                                 PeoplePerHour. Using data collected                 in the study—Ukrainian women formed

        Figure 1. The Distribution of the Indian
        Internet Users by Gender and Age in
        2019. Source: MRUC, 2020

                                 The Distribution of the Indian Internet Users by Gender and Age in 2019
                                                                                        Share of respondents, in % of subgroup

                                                    All India         Rural                       Urban
                                                                                                                       All India
           Percentage of Internet users

                                                                                                                                                                                            Percentage of Internet users




                                          20%                                                                            Urban

100%                                                                                                                              0%   20%         40%     60%        80%       100%
50+                                             Female    Male   Female       Male       Female      Male                     12-15    16-19       20-29   30-39     40-49      50+

     39% and women from the United                          provides a brief and general overview                  development system was judged to be
     States 41% of the collected sample.                    of the various organisations involved in               non-responsive to labour market needs,
     While Ukrainian and American women                     imparting skills training in the country,              in that there was a demand-supply
     tend to dominate men in jobs related                   distinguishing between government-                     mismatch in numbers of people trained,
     to writing and translation, and reach                  led initiatives, platform-led initiatives,             quality of training and skill types; skills
     parity with men in jobs related to                     private initiatives, and self-driven skills            curricula were ‘inflexible and outmoded’,
     creative and multimedia, the proportion                training that happens outside these                    and unsuited to market needs in the
     of Indian women participating in these                 organisational pathways. Section 9,                    absence of systematic industry-faculty
     categories remains comparatively low                   drawing on our fieldwork, delves more                  interaction; training programmes
     at 47% and 21%, respectively.                          deeply into recent developments and                    resulted in low labour market outcomes
                                                            priorities in the Indian TVET ecosystem,               for graduates; and there were poor
     Much of the research on the Indian                     particularly as pertaining to cloudwork.               testing, certification and accreditation
     platform economy focuses on the                                                                               systems for formal training, and a
     Indian workers and clients on the                                                                             complete lack of certification for
     largest global platforms, based in the                 4.4.1. Government-led Skills                           informally acquired skills (which was the
     United States (Upwork), Australia                      Training                                               case for the majority of the workforce).
     (Freelancer), the United Kingdom                                                                              There has since been substantial
     (PeoplePerHour), and Israel (Fiverr).                  Skills development has been a core                     government investments and is a leading platform partially               priority for the Indian government                     institutional reorganisation to reform
     based in India and there additionally                  since the mid-2000s, and the                           this fragmented and ineffective system.
     exist smaller Indian cloudwork                         institutional structures servicing this
     platforms, such as Truelancer, which                   priority have evolved substantially                    The skills ecosystem in India is
     contract work globally. Despite their                  over this period. India’s Eleventh                     now centrally coordinated, with a
     global outlook and importance for                      Five-Year Plan (Government of India,                   clearer division of responsibilities
     Indian freelancers and clients, even less              2008), spanning the 2007-2011                          across different bodies. 2014 saw
     is known about these local platforms,                  period, foregrounded this priority, with               the establishment of a separate
     which is why we have included                          an entire chapter devoted to ‘Skill                    Ministry for Skill Development and
     Truelancer in our study.                               Development and Training’.2 Prior to                   Entrepreneurship (MSDE, n.d.), tasked
                                                            2009, some skills training was imparted                with coordinating all skills development
     4.4. Skills Training                                   via formal TVET channels, though                       efforts across the country. The MSDE

     Systems in India
                                                            most was done informally; across both,                 coordinates and works with the
                                                            only about 10% of the Indian labour                    following key organisations:
                                                            force was estimated to have received
     The Technical and Vocational Education                 vocational training (Singh, 2012). The                •    Directorate General of Training
     and Training (TVET) sector in India is                 formal channels were multiple, involving                   (DGT): The DGT develops and
     complex, and comprises a wide array of                 vocational education in secondary                          coordinates long-term vocational
     programmes and organisations. In this                  schools, higher technical education                        training programmes across
     project, following UNESCO-UNEVOC                       through professional colleges (teaching                    the country, through a network
     (2015) definition, TVET is understood                  engineering, medicine, agriculture,                        of around 15,000 private and
     as ‘comprising education, training and                 etc.), technical training at specialised                   governmental Industrial Training
     skills development relating to a wide                  institutions, and apprenticeship                           Institutes (ITIs), and 33 National
     range of occupational fields, production,              programmes. These were managed                             Skills Training Institutes (NSTIs),
     services and livelihoods’. As such,                    by numerous governmental bodies                            National Skills Training Institutes
     TVET includes the full gamut of skills                 spanning central ministries and                            for Women (NSTI-W) and other
     development activities undertaken                      departments, and state governments.                        national-level institutes (MSDE,
     at secondary, post-secondary, and
                                                                                                                       n.d.). DGT also oversees the ‘Bharat
     tertiary levels, and includes work-based               The Eleventh Five-Year Plan deemed                         Skills’ portal, an online self-learning
     learning, and continuous training and                  this system not fit-for-purpose in                         platform for ITI students and
     professional development. This section                 many respects (pp. 87-89): the skills                      teachers.

      Between 1947 and 2017, the Indian Economy was organised through a series of Five-Year plans that outlaid the government’s priorities and the allocation of state
     resources for the respective five-year period

•   National Skill Development                                           and among vocational education,             2015, and the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal
    Corporation (NSDC): The NSDC                                          vocational training, general education     Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) scheme (Press
    is a public-private partnership                                      and technical education, thus linking       Trust of India, 2015). As recently as
    that seeks to bridge industry and                                    one level of learning to another            in July 2020, PM Modi underscored
    government in the skills ecosystem.                                   higher level” (NSDA, n.d.).                the skills development priority for his
    A key role of the NSDC is to                                                                                     administration, announcing in an address,
    coordinate and liaise with the 38       •                            Other government agencies
    Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) that it                                 and third sector organisations:                “People ask me that in these
    established in 2015. SSCs are non-                                 The MSDE also collaborates                        times when businesses and
    governmental trade associations in                                    with other central ministries                  markets are changing so fast
    different economic sectors, ranging                                  and state governments, private                  how to stay relevant. This
                                                                                                                         question is even more important
    from construction and agriculture to                                 sector companies, international
                                                                                                                         during this COVID-19 pandemic.
    Information Technology (IT) and IT                                   organisations and NGOs on skills
                                                                                                                         The mantra to be relevant is to
    enabled Services (ITeS). The NSDC                                    development initiatives.
                                                                                                                         skill, reskill and upskill” (ANI,
    works with SSCs to link the skills
    ecosystem to industry needs, for        In accordance with the high priority
    example through the development         that the central government places on
    of industry-specific occupational       skills development, union budgets have
                                                                                                                     4.4.2. Platform-led Skills
    standards, skills gap analyses, and     also seen increasing yearly allocations
    training curricula. Particularly        for jobs, skill development, and
    relevant for this report is the IT-     livelihoods schemes (see Figure 2).
                                                                                                                     Previous research on skills development
    ITeS SSC NASSCOM, which is the
                                                                                                                     in the gig economy indicates that
    national standard-setting body for      The government, under Prime Minister
                                                                                                                     digital platforms may provide certain
    IT skills across the country. The       Narendra Modi’s stewardship, has in
                                                                                                                     minimal forms of direct skills training
    NSDC additionally aims to play the      recent years also launched numerous
                                                                                                                     to workers or other users. This has
    role of a ‘market-maker’ by providing   skills initiatives, including the ‘Skill India’
                                                                                                                     been referred to as ‘platform-led
    subsidised financing for private        mission, the National Policy for Skill
                                                                                                                     upskilling’ (PLU) (Donner et al., 2019)
    training providers, and ensuring        Development and Entrepreneurship
                                                                                                                     and ‘last-mile training’ (Craig, 2019).
    that they make use of industry-
    developed standards, curricula
    and resources (The Pathways for                                                           Yearly Central Government Budget Allocation
    Prosperity Commission, 2019).                                                                        for Skills Development

•   National Council for Vocational
    Education and Training (NCVET):
                                             Actual expenditure in Crores of Rupees

                                                                                      7,000                                          6,608
    NCVET acts as an overarching
    regulator to provide quality                                                      6,000
    assurance across the skills
    ecosystem, by recognising and
    regulating assessment agencies                                                    4,000
    and awarding bodies, and overseeing                                                                               2,723
    and updating the National Skill
    Qualification Framework (NSQF).                                                   2,000
    The NSQF oversees a “nationally                                                   1,000
    integrated education and
    competency based skill framework                                                             2015-16   2106-17    2017-18        2018-19        2019-20
    that will provide for multiple
    pathways, horizontal as well as          Figure 2. Yearly Central Government Budget Allocation for Skills Development
    vertical, both within vocational         Source: Compiled from Union Budgets (The Government of India, 2017; 2018; 2019;
    education and vocational training        2020; 2021).

     Such an approach to skilling workers         benefits, and other specific aspects        maintain an arms-length relationship
     finds historical parallels in employer-      of the organisation and operations          with workers, so as not to become
     led upskilling where companies train         (Felstead & Jewson, 2014). Beyond this      embroiled in questions of worker
     their employees in occupational and          minimum level, it has been argued that      misclassification. One way that this
     workplace skills. Access to in-work          ultimately, “employees’ access to and       arms-length relationship manifests is in
     training varies vastly across workplaces,    involvement in meaningful training and      platforms’ limited involvement in direct
     based on factors like the nature of the      skill formation will be contingent on the   skills training. The recent Cedefop study
     employment contract (where longer-           power relations which characterise the      on digital work and learning found that
     term ‘employees’ doing higher-skill work     employment relationship and the quality     online platforms usually skill workers only
     receive more training), the flexibility      of the job” (Unwin, 2017: 222).             in indirect ways, such as by publishing
     workers have over their work processes,                                                  information on which skills are in demand
     and the degree to which workers are          As explained in Section 4.1,                (so workers can better develop their
     involved in decision making (Unwin,          cloudworkers—who are typically              profiles), getting clients to provide
     2017). Most employers, at a minimum,         classified as self-employed workers or      feedback on submitted work, referring
     meet a ‘training floor’ (if only to comply   independent contractors—often face          workers to off-platform training
     with regulatory requirements) where          poor job quality, and rarely have a say     resources, and facilitating worker
     they may impart information to workers       in how work is organised and managed        communities where peer learning may
     on orientation, safety, employee             on platforms. Platforms are careful to      take place (Cedefop, 2020). Concurrently,

                                                                                                             An Upwork worker at his

however, platforms limit engagement in                 from platform proficiencies, financial                  private companies like Microsoft, IBM,
direct skills training activities:                     and digital literacies, technical skills,               SimpliLearn, and others.
                                                       and soft skills, and examples of such
“Online labour platforms generally do                  PLU included webinars, Facebook live
not see a business case for more                       sessions, video tutorials, and Frequently               4.4.4. Skills Training beyond
direct involvement in training their                   Asked Questions (FAQ) webpages.                         Organisations
workers [...] training such workers is                 However, such training appears to
expensive and risky, because they may                  be less frequent in the case of the                     While not typically thought of as
take their skills elsewhere. Rather                    cloudwork platforms that are the focus                  forming a part of the TVET ecosystem,
than investing in directly supporting                  of this project and the Cedefop study                   previous research indicates that there
freelancers’ skill development,                        discussed above.                                        are myriad informal ways that platform
platforms therefore invest in their                                                                            workers acquire the skills, knowledge,
crowdworkers’ satisfaction, community                                                                          and resources they need for their work,
promotion and marketing initiatives to                  4.4.3. Private Skills Training                         without reliance on government, private
attract and retain skilled workers from                                                                        training providers, or platforms. They
outside. Platform companies are also                   Alongside government-led efforts,                       can learn the skills they need for their
concerned that too much involvement                    numerous private education technology                   work from free resources like YouTube
in skill development and training could                companies have emerged in the past                      tutorials, or by relying on advice from
risk them being potentially reclassified               decade, offering Indians an array of                    friends, family, and mentors (Partnership
as employers, which they wish to avoid.                ‘e-learning’ opportunities. Examples                    for Finance in a Digital Africa, 2019).
This is because, in many jurisdictions,                include companies like UpGrad, Coursera,                Workers also rely on communities of
the provision of training is considered                Udemy, Skillshare and SimpliLearn,                      other workers found on messaging
one of the hallmarks of an employment                  where learners can pay for certified                    apps like Whatsapp, and social media
relationship; it could potentially be used             courses on a variety of subjects.                       websites like Reddit or Facebook; for
to argue that platform workers should                  There are also an increasing number                     example, the ‘Turker Nation’ subreddit
be classified as employees in a lawsuit                of global technology companies that                     caters specifically to MTurk workers, as
challenging their employment status.                   have developed platforms to impart                      does the ‘Turkers 101’ Facebook group
Overall, the platforms see themselves                  technical skills to learners, such as                   (Sherry, 2020). These avenues of self-
as having only a limited and indirect role             Cisco’s ‘Networking Academy’ which                      organised, self-driven learning can be
to play in supporting crowdworkers’ skill              was developed as a corporate social                     crucial for workers who lack access to
development” (Cedefop, 2020: 36-37).                   responsibility undertaking, or Google’s                 formal and institutionalised channels for
                                                       Developer Students Club. There also                     skills development.
Despite there being little incentive                   exist collaborative ventures between
for platforms to engage in extensive                   private training companies and the
direct skills training, other researchers              Indian government; for example, the
have found some examples of such                       Director General of Training (DGT)
training. Donner et al., (2019) studied                and MSDE signed an agreement with
a range of geographically tethered and                 Cisco and Accenture in late-2019
e-commerce platforms in Sub-Saharan                    to make available a digital skills
Africa and Asia, and found instances                   module to ITI students through the
of ‘platform-led upskilling’ (PLU) that                Bharat Skills portal. Another notable
happened face-to-face, through online                  collaborative venture is the ‘e-Skill
training, and through in-workflow                      India Portal’, a multilingual e-learning
moments, that is, through ‘a subset of                 aggregator platform that the NSDC
nudges or other cues in which interface                coordinates and maintains. The e-Skill
and experience design has been                         India portal is a web-based platform
deployed specifically to transfer skills               that consolidates free and paid
to the user’. Training subjects ranged
               3                                       digital learning content created by

 It should be noted that ‘in-workflow moments’ where workers are ‘nudged’ to change their behaviours also has the potential to be manipulative and detrimental to
workers’ welfare; Noam Scheiber (2017) discusses how Uber nudges drivers to pursue work and earning targets that may be inimical to their interests.

     5. Methods                                                                              5.2. Research Design
                                                 needed to perform them? How has
                                                 the global upheaval caused by the
                                                 COVID-19 pandemic impacted these
                                                 structures? What lessons does the           We structured our inquiry of the five
                                                                                             research questions around a mixed-
     5.1. Research
                                                 intersection between TVET, digital
                                                 labour platforms, and (in)formal            methods research approach, combining
     Questions                                   employment hold for development             quantitative and qualitative methods
                                                 cooperation in a post-pandemic              to collect and analyze our data and an
     While the burgeoning platform economy       context?                                    initial theoretical phase consisting of
     offers the promise of jobs for India’s                                                  desk research to ground our inquiry.
     growing workforce, it also entails          In order to begin addressing these          We included four cloudwork platforms
     sweeping challenges for how Technical       broad questions and examine the             in our research, representing the two
     and Vocational Education and Training       socio-economic factors grounding the        different types of cloudwork: microwork
     (TVET) programmes can be developed          perceptions, choices, and actions of        and freelancing. We included one
     and implemented for these workers.          Indian cloudworkers’ education, training,   microwork platform (Amazon Mechanical
     Given that cloudworkers are typically       and skills development, our project         Turk) and three freelancing platforms,
     classified as independent contractors       adopted five research questions:            with two global platforms (Upwork and
     rather than employees, there is a lack                                                  Freelancer) and one Indian platform
     of formalised upskilling pathways           RQ1: What are the impacts of                (Truelancer). Table 1 describes the
     officially accredited by India’s National        the COVID-19 pandemic on               main types of tasks carried out on the
     Skills Development Cooperation (NSDC).           Indian cloudworkers and                included platforms.
     Additionally, the diversity of cloudwork         the cloudwork landscape?
     is difficult to contain within clearly                                                  The quantitative phase involved
     defined occupational standards and job      RQ2: What skills are particularly           development of a novel survey
     roles, which tend to underpin many TVET          relevant for cloudworkers              instrument, which was administered
     initiatives and projects in the country.         in India and how are they              to over 400 Indian platform workers
                                                      acquired?                              across the four platforms. We required
     The increase in job opportunities                                                       the survey respondents to have
     on cloudwork platforms, and the             RQ3: What factors support                   worked for at least one month on one
     multiplicity of platforms through which          or limit cloudworkers                  of these platforms, be based in India,
     freelancers can find opportunities,              in acquiring the skills                and be at least 18 years of age. Beyond
     pose important questions for the                 they need for their work,              comparing the populations working on
     actors involved in the TVET landscape.           and what strategies do                 the four included platforms, we were
     For instance, how can skills training            they use to overcome                   interested in interrogating whether
     programmes be reformed and expanded              obstacles?                             inequalities arise along other metrics
     in ways that account for this shift                                                     that are relevant to the Indian context
     online when it comes to requesting,         RQ4: What connections and                   and may explain why some gig workers
     accessing, and performing jobs and               interactions exist between             are able to acquire skills and progress
     tasks? Which parties should be involved          the platform economy,                  along cloudwork career pathways
     in shaping policies, projects, and               informal work and skills               while others are not. Given the gender
     initiatives? Is a new social contract            training?                              disparities among Indian cloudworkers
     between labour, business, and society                                                   that previous research has highlighted,
     required, as global institutions like the   RQ5: What conclusions can be                we recruited roughly equal numbers of
     International Labour Organisation                drawn for future skills                respondents who identified as ‘male’
     and the World Economic Forum have                training approaches, in                and as ‘not male’ (including female, non-
     implied? How does the overall structure          particular for development             binary, and other genders) in order to be
     of the Indian cloud-based workforce              cooperation?                           able to compare these groups as well.
     look, including the types of jobs that
     cloudworkers perform, and the skills

The qualitative phase included 10             of their working environments (home              the quantitative data. We additionally
semi-structured interviews with leading       office, desk space, etc.), for use in this       address our research questions with
TVET stakeholders, including experts          report. None of the survey or interview          more subjective reflections arising from
from India’s National Skill Development       participants were among these ten                the interviews with workers from the
Corporation (NSDC) and Sector Skill           workers, in order to protect the former          four platforms, which allow us to further
Councils, and platform managers,              group’s confidentiality.                         explore the central themes that emerge
among others. We additionally carried                                                          from the survey data. Finally, we spread
out 31 in-depth interviews with Indian        Throughout the report we draw our                the stakeholder interviews through
cloudworkers from across the four             findings from these varied levels of data        the research project and used them to
platforms that we researched. The             and we discuss insights from the survey          gain insight into the central themes,
interviewees were drawn from the              data in terms of the entire sample, and          processes, and stakeholders related to
sample of survey respondents. A more          comment on averages across platforms             skills development of Indian platform
detailed description of the interview and     or between men and women where                   workers.
survey methodologies, and the list of         particular patterns emerge along those
stakeholder interviewees is presented in      divisions. Where our survey questions
Appendix A, while Table 2 describes our       have recorded open-ended responses, we
sample. In addition to the surveys and        have identified common themes among
interviews, we also commissioned ten          the respondents, which we employ to
Indian cloudworkers to take photographs       add insight into the patterns we see in

                                                                                             Table 1. Summary of Included Platforms.
                                                                                             Source: Project data set

  Platform               Headquarters                    Platform Type                 Main Task Types

  Amazon                 Seattle, Washington, USA        Microwork                     Surveys, image identification, transcription
  Mechanical Turk                                                                      and annotation; content moderation; data
                                                                                       collection and processing; audio and video
                                                                                       transcription and translation, etc.

  Freelancer             Sydney, Australia                Freelancing                  Web and software development; web and
                                                                                       graphic design; content and research writing;
  Truelancer             New Delhi, India                 Freelancing                  business services (e.g. accounting, HR, legal,
                                                                                       etc.); sales and marketing, etc.
  Upwork                 Santa Clara, California, USA    Freelancing

                                                                                             Table 2. Platform and Gender Distribution of
                                                                                             Survey Respondents. Source: Project data set

                        MTurk                  Freelancer                Truelancer            Upwork                 Total

  Female                53 (51.9%)             47 (46.5%)                50 (49.5%)            50 (49.5%)             200 (49.4%)

  Male                  49 (48.1%)             54 (53.5%)                51 (51.5%)            51 (51.5%)             205 (50.6%)

  Total                 102 (25.2%)            101 (24.93%)              101 (24.93%)          101 (24.93%)           405 (100%)
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