Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated DigiSkills program earlier this year which is aimed to produce one million freelancers in the country. The program is initiated by the Federal Ministry of IT (MoITT) and overlooked by IGNITE – National Technology Fund (previously known as National ICT R&D Fund).
This program will train youth with essential in-demand IT skills so that they are capable of earning a reasonable amount of 200 to 300 dollars monthly by providing services to the domestic and international online community and businesses. The program will not only increase the penetration of IT to the grass root level but will also create jobs for the youngsters. Globally Pakistan is currently at the fourth position in the provision of online freelancing services and by the launch of this program Government of Pakistan aims to bring the country to top level in the next couple of years.
History of the program goes back to last year when Minister for State for IT and Telecom Ms. Anusha Rehman handed over the task to CEO IGNITE for the design and implementation of a program to empower youth through provision of skill and training in IT. CEO IGNITE Mr. Yusuf Hussain together with his team worked on the concept rigorously. With the support provided by the IGNITE team Ministry of IT has launched several short terms and long-term projects which will benefit the unemployed youth and especially the female population of the country.
Apart from this program MoITT under a separate program has established five Technology Incubation Centers (TIC’s); one in Islamabad and one each in provincial capitals to help the entrepreneurs with their IT business start-ups. These TIC’s are being established under the public-private partnership plan and collaborates with leading IT companies and academia to hone the startups and provide them with necessary guidance and support.
Programs like these are an excellent step by the federal government as this will provide opportunities to all the interested candidates at national level irrespective of their provincial or ethnic backgrounds. The government of Punjab earlier had launched a similar initiative under the banner of eRozgar, but that program although being successful had some of its inherent limitations being at a provincial level.
MoITT has partnered with Virtual University (VU) for the provision of DigiSkills training program. VU has a setup of countrywide campuses which will be beneficial to provide world-class facilities to the trainees at their doorstep. Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and Telenor Pakistan are also joining hands with VU as telecommunication partners of the project.
VU has the most massive ICT infrastructure and over 160 campuses in 100 cities nationwide. Thus making it the most obvious choice as DigiSkills program intends to provide online training which will be available via online portals and web-based lectures. The trainees will be mentored through coaches and mentors and will be assessed through AI based evaluation system.