Pakistan’s IT companies that produce high-value products has found that only 10 percent of graduates from lower-tier universities are employable. However, software houses with low-end IT services employ 50% of the graduates of these universities.
Pakistan should focus on human capital related to technology innovations by filling the skills gaps which are essential for the digital economy and are required by the IT and ITeS industry, according to a study by Gallup Pakistan.
This gap signifies the lack of suitable and contemporary programming skills in Pakistan. Also, weak English is identified as a major drawback stemming from a lack of qualified teachers and a modern curriculum at all levels of education.
According to an estimate, Pakistan’s universities produce around 25,000 IT graduates but merely 5,000 get employed at leading local IT companies. The other graduates do not meet the selection criteria of the companies because of their irrelevant or outdated education. In this regard, the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication has been working to set up an authority to revamp curriculum on IT education on par with global standards and requirements however the present government has not come up with an institution in the past two years.
First, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Pakistan, universities, and other stakeholders should collaborate and agree on a curricular update to tackle the country’s professional and technical needs.
Second, the IT industry needs to identify and communicate the necessary learning requirements and missing skills, including soft skills.
Third, a mechanism to improve the integration of lower-tier universities with industry is also required.
One option to speed up the process is to facilitate and encourage hiring coders from the private sector to teach courses in universities. Finally, HEC and universities need to start recognizing credit from online courses (e.g. online coding courses from Coursera and EdX that have the necessary quality accreditation). This will allow students to improve their skills rapidly in a more efficient way.
In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, this has become even more relevant and urgent. In the case of Pakistan, there are significant skills gaps among computer science engineers and professionals that need to be tackled to ensure the future growth of the sector including:
- Inability to code in contemporary technology platforms,
- Weak English skills,
- Poor comprehension readiness to address foreign clients’ concerns,
- Inadequate soft skills, namely communication and teamwork,
- Poor knowledge of corporate culture, e.g. reporting, compliance, escalations, email etiquette, and protocols.
Graduates from top universities in Pakistan are fully employable by the industry and higher in demand, the study said.
There are 6 specialized universities for the field of computer science and IT and over 20 universities offer various degrees in the discipline of IT and computer sciences as per HEC.