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Ms. Shaza Fatima Khawaja

Minister of State, MoITT

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Adeel Aijaz Sheikh

CEO, Ignite

The future of work is digital and it has become even more evident since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees in public and private sector organizations are working from home these days for social distancing reasons. Freelancing also enables graduates and professionals with skillsets in different areas to offer their services to local and foreign clients while sitting at home. The advantage of using freelancers is that clients can hire resources on an as needed basis instead of going through cumbersome procurement processes which can take many months for hiring and starting work. Freelancing results in substantial cost savings for clients also. Digital platforms such as Digiskills create jobs by connecting freelancers directly with local and foreign clients.

According to a research firm, the projected size of the gig economy is expected to reach $455 billion by 2023! If Pakistan’s freelancers can capture even 0.5% of this huge market, then it means at least $2.2 billion in IT exports for Pakistan. Over the last couple of years, Digiskills has achieved more than 1.5 million enrollments in more than ten courses including Graphic Design, AutoCAD, QuickBooks, WordPress, SEO, E-commerce, Digital Marketing, digital literacy, creative writing, etc. According to a recent study by Semiotics, freelancers trained through Digiskills have generated exports of more than $200 million over the past two years at an average of $100 million a year. My strategy is to offer new courses in emerging tools and technologies to at least double these exports over the next couple of years. For this purpose, Ignite will conduct research with freelancers and the industry to identify skillsets which have local and foreign demand. For those courses which can be taught online, Ignite will develop training content using a third party. We will also be launching a new track called codiskills under which we will launch training courses in different programming languages. In addition to getting work from foreign clients, Ignite will also launch a local freelancing portal where local clients can post their gigs/projects and freelancers can then bid for those projects. This will build up the skillset of our freelancers so that they are more successful when bidding for foreign projects. Future areas for exploration include Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Sciences, support for the disabled using assistive technologies, etc. Ignite’s goal is to make Digiskills a life-long training and earning portal for Pakistani students and professionals.

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Prof. Dr. Arshad Saleem Bhatti

Rector, Virtual University

The global job market is rapidly evolving and it is almost impossible to predict what type of skills will be in demand 5 years from now. As a result, lifelong learning has become imperative for any viable workforce. One important aspect of this future oriented job-market is the digital nature of most services that will be required. The younger generations, being digital natives, can now identify new avenues and areas where they could thrive, either as revenue earners or even as entrepreneurs.

The DigiSkills project that is being executed by the Virtual University of Pakistan, is meant to empower youth in digital skill areas that are in global demand. The spectrum of these is skills is very vast and learners will be able to select their own path towards becoming digital freelancers. While the courses and programs being offered under the project are free of cost for the learners, a fair amount of self-discipline and time management will be required to benefit properly from them. Only serious, committed learners will complete their courses successfully but then the opportunities that await them are very vast.

I wish all DigiSkill graduates the best in their future endeavors.

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Dr. Zafar M. Alvi

Project Director, DigiSkills

Digitalization of economy has radically transformed work. Getting the work done is no longer limited to local resources. Freelance international job markets have provided tremendous opportunities for posting tasks globally, while simultaneously e-workers from all around the globe can bid for these tasks.

This has freed e-workers from eyeing for regular jobs, and instead channelize their energies towards self-reliance. While also earning valuable foreign exchange for their countries by tapping into international job markets. DigiSkills training program is essentially a paradigm shift from job-targeted education to skill- based training. This program is a game changer for Pakistani youth, which will provide them opportunities to learn for free and master the skillsets that are in demand in the freelance job markets.

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Ehsen Zafar Puri

Director ICT, Virtual University

The DigiSkills Program has been handcrafted from conception to implementation in the minutest detail keeping quality at the forefront. The Ignite and Virtual University teams have worked really hard, day and night, to bring you the greatest opportunity in Pakistan's IT landscape. May Allah almighty give you unprecedented success in empowering yourself and, ultimately, Pakistan.