ISLAMABAD: Information technology and digital experts have called for making new emerging skills part of curriculum in Pakistani educational institutions to help youth earn valuable foreign exchange for the South Asian country through freelancing.
The call was made by innovators while sharing their experience and tips with participants of Future Fest 2022 that kicked off in Islamabad on Friday, with organizers calling it the “largest” tech conference in Pakistan.
The three-day conference and exhibition bring together Pakistan’s top tech startups, entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and technology professionals along with leaders from public and private sectors to pave the way for a bright future through the use of technology.
“Traditional education being imparted in our educational institutions doesn’t equip our youth with digital skills required for freelancing,” Azad Chaiwala, an entrepreneur and investor, said at the conference.
“Major reforms are required in our curriculum and education system to prepare our youth for the international market.”
Hisham Sarwar, a renowned freelancer, said there was a need to establish more training institutions to impart the digital skills across Pakistan.
“All emerging and trending skills should be taught in our educational institutions to compete with the world,” he suggested.
Sarwar said students should be taught freelancing at schools to make the most of it.
Pakistani startups raised around $375 million in 2021, with funding for the outgoing year doubling the total investment received in the last six years.
Pakistani startups attracted the largest share, or 32 percent, of funding in logistics in 2021, followed by e-commerce at 27 percent, fintech 25 percent and edtech and healthtech 4 percent, according to data shared by the Alpha Beta Core startup investment advisory platform.
Tanveer Nandla, an entrepreneur, said the COVID-19 pandemic had proven to be a blessing for digital marketing and helped create jobs. He dispelled the notion that the global online market was getting saturated.
“As long as businesses are registering, digital marketing will continue,” he said, urging the government to establish a payment gateway to facilitate freelancers.
Rehan Allahwala, a start-up creator, said there were around 150 million smart phone users in Pakistan, but there was a “fundamental problem” of lack of awareness to use them to earn money.
He said youth with digital skills could help Pakistan earn billions of dollars in foreign exchange annually, provided they are equipped with proper skills.
The three-day event will host more than 50,000 attendees, 300 world class speakers, 100 exhibitors, 20 activities, all wrapped in four mega events covering 40 industry verticals for the first time in Pakistan, according to the organizers. More than 50 guests, including the world’s top investors and entrepreneurs, will attend the event, which has been sponsored by some of the leading international companies, including Binance, Epic Games and KuCoin, and more than 200 partners, including Google Developers, Payoneer, Careem, Swvl, S&P Global and McDonald’s.
The event includes a food festival, portable amusement park, tourism center, futuristic experiences as well as networking opportunities to learn and connect with top national and international leaders.
Rafay Baloch, an ethical hacker and digital security researcher, also highlighted different aspects of ‘deepfakes,’ digitally altered images or videos of a person, in this age of technology.
He said the revolution in machine learning and artificial intelligence has also introduced different security and privacy problems, and the propagation of disinformation through social media and Internet has emerged as one of the biggest challenges for the world.
“Around 96 percent of the deepfake technology has a utility in the porn industry,” Baloch said. “But it has many other social and political implications as well, especially for countries like Pakistan.”