How to Create a Digitally Skilled Workforce in Pakistan?

Pakistan’s youth (18–29) is second highest after Yemen in terms of percentage of total population. Out of this, 55% is urban youth as per 2008 census.

However, this youth is misdirected and struggles to make a decent living. As per a research conducted by Rabia Zafar at LUMS, no province has been able to employ more than 40% of its youth with the exception of Balochistan which employs 43.4%. The lowest among the four provinces, to create and provide employment opportunities in the country, is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

This youth bulge needs to be directed to become a contributing hand to the country’s economy instead of becoming a burden. And one of the solutions to this crisis is providing digital skills and creating digital employment opportunities for the youth.

The digital freelancing industry has grown exponentially over the years. Small businesses and consultants hire freelancers from around the globe to provide small task-based services and pay them a fixed amount in return. Notable freelancing platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, Guru and People Per Hour allow the freelancers to find clients from around the world and get paid for providing digital services.

These services can range from writing articles for websites and blogs, to software application development and digital marketing consultancy. The opportunities are endless and are worth exploring for anyone who has an interest in “earning money through the Internet”.

How to get started?

There have been a large number of organizations which have been founded and set up by freelancers. But there are very few people who are training people on how to freelance. Most of these people are known only to the freelancing community and therefore are poised to serve only those who know about them.

But there are a handful of organizations actively sharing their knowledge with the public at large and helping youngsters get started with freelancing. One of them is Empower Pakistan, which was founded for the sole reason of training Pakistan’s youth on digital skills and preparing them for a career in freelancing.

Through their Digital Employment, Let Girls Earn and Social Impact programs, they are on their way to empower Pakistanis to be home to a digitally skilled workforce to be reckoned with.

Their 2020 mission is to create over 100,000 digital employment opportunities for Pakistanis. And they already have a successful alumni base of 1500+ freelancers, some of which are earning as much as $2,500 per month. Collectively, Empower Pakistan’s alumni have earned over $500,000 since graduating from one of the many digital employment workshops, conducted with the support of The World Bank Group.

With the launch of Digital Employment Program, Empower Pakistan aims to open up their proven training program to train Pakistan’s youth on digital skills and helping them to kickstart their freelancing careers.

The 6-week program offers two modes of learning; in-person class training and online classes. The course lectures and relevant material will be available to the registered trainees on a dedicated learning management system which can be used as a self-paced training course, much like those offered by Coursera, Udemy etc. The difference, however, is that these courses are being taught by top-rated freelancers in their fields who have collectively earned more than $250,000 between themselves over the past 2 years.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is open for applications till 26th March for in-class sessions, while people can sign-up for the online mode of training and course access till 13th April. The courses will be infused with practical task-based assignments and trainers will provide one-on-one feedback and guidance to the in-class trainees and remote assistance to the online attendees. The formal classes start on 26th March and the timings are designed to suit to all types of people, be it students, professionals or unemployed graduates. The goal is to get the people started on digital skills and facilitate them to set up their freelancing profiles and share the best practices, tips, tricks, dos and don’ts to secure projects and paid assignments that can earn them money working remotely from the comfort of their homes.

In addition, Empower Pakistan is also starting a training program that leads to a guaranteed digital employment with support of Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF). The registrations for this program will open shortly and classes are scheduled to start on 1st April.

While the country struggles with slow economic growth, increasing unemployment and shrinking of various industries, our universities continue to produce hundreds of thousands of graduates every 6 months. The result: growing unemployment, frustrated graduates and thousands of unemployed graduates throwing their CVs left, right and center at potential recruiters. In this situation, initiatives like Empower Pakistan’s Digital Employment Program are a ray of hope for these graduates to learn new digital skills and find employment either through freelancing, or in local IT organizations which need people trained on various digital skills.

If you want to know more details about Empower Pakistan and Digital Employment Program and the work they do, please visit this link.