Freelancing training institutes Instrument of economic well-being
DEVELOPING countries can allocate a limited budget for education, health, social development and technological advancements.
These budgetary allocations often remain sufficient to meet the running and non-developmental expenditure only.
By virtue of the low spending, limited growth is witnessed and that too, in a few sectors of the economy.
Local production becomes insufficient and import of even basic necessities (e.g.sugar, wheat, cooking oil etc.) becomes essential.
In such cases, the economy faces pressure because of the disproportion in the import and export bills which causes an increase in cost-of-living, loans and inflation.
The continuous improvement in different sectors can help in improving the economic situation, but in Pakistan, the conventional sectors (e.g. agriculture, industrial production etc) do not seem to contribute in changing this disproportion into proportion.
Our homeland, however, is among the unique countries in the world which has an overwhelming percentage of the youth.
In our case over 64% of the population is less than 30 years of age. This young workforce can do wonders when they are equipped with work-ethics, skills, expertise and continuous training.
Young IT professionals of our country have proved themselves to be capable of bringing foreign income (remittances) and creating thousands of employment opportunities for the graduating (graduated) students by engaging them into freelancing platforms.
In freelancing the resource person (worker) takes small pieces of work from online resources by winning the competition in an open bid (in most cases).
Though the number of resource persons is increasing day-by-day, yet there is so much work available in diversified fields that people with good skills can still earn hundreds of dollars a month, if not thousands.
It has been observed that the resource persons getting these tasks, to complete the work on-time, further divide these tasks in a small group of individuals in their work-friends circle and thus create further opportunities for their business.
Though an overwhelming amount of work is being done in computing applications and their allied areas yet a significant amount of work is available in other areas like management sciences, social sciences and arts and humanities.
If given a good patronage, the freelancing industry can help reduce the job dependency on the local economy and can help in increasing the foreign remittances coming to Pakistan.
According to the global payment platform Payoneer’s Global Gig Economy Index, Pakistan was among the top freelance markets leaving behind regional countries including India, Bangladesh and Russia.
Pakistan has not only managed to secure the top slot in Asia but also ranked 4th in the world in the growth of freelance earnings, shortly behind the US at 78% growth, UK at 59% growth, Brazil at 48% growth and Pakistan at 47% growth last year.
A more participative inclusion of manpower in areas other than computing can further improve the growth.
It seems vital to suggest that freelancing education should be emphasized in the schools, colleges and universities in all disciplines and in all departments.
This will enable the students to learn ways and means of using freelancing platforms for getting online work.
It may be deemed as a vital step that universities establish freelancing training institutes with the support of the government and provide a compulsory training to every student who is enrolled in any program in a university.
The professionals to provide training in these institutes may come from universities and industry to provide best learning experience to students and to enable them to take the freelancing jobs.
This training may consist of well thought of modules which can enable these students to conclude the tasks more effectively when it comes to getting jobs on freelancing platforms.
It is encouraging to note that the government, through the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has timely understood the importance of freelancing and has proposed a policy (in consultation draft phase), named as “National Freelancing Facilitation Policy”.
The concept of the Freelancing Training Institutes (FTI’s) may be introduced to make the policy more comprehensive and cohesive.
The specialized manpower with emphasized training on freelancing can undertake freelancing jobs (tasks) with precision and success.
The effective handling of such an initiative will ensure that Pakistan’s pie in overall earnings from freelancing will increase.
This $350 million industry (remittances coming through official banking channels last year) has the potential of turning into a $3.50 billion industry in a few years’ time.
The concept of FTI’s can help in achieving this goal at a good pace. Increase in income from freelancing sources can support our economy by providing jobs and creating foreign income.
In the 22nd century if there can be a techno-economic miracle, it can be through freelancing.
—The author is an Associate Professor of Computing at NUML Islamabad: