The government of Pakistan, in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission, is planning to introduce a standardized assessment for IT graduates. This initiative, led by Caretaker IT Minister Umar Saif, aims to improve the employability of IT graduates. Successful candidates will be required to undertake internships in the IT sector and participate in practical training programs.
Minister Saif announced that around 16,000 individuals will receive training in partnership with the National University of Technology (NUTECH). This assessment will be mandatory for students from all universities.
He noted that despite the high number of IT graduates in Pakistan, only a small fraction, approximately 3,000 out of 75,000 graduates, are eligible for employment in the IT industry. The centralized test will be administered to graduates from all universities, and the internships will serve as a bridge to full-time employment. The first test is scheduled for December, six months before students complete their bachelor’s degrees, and it will be followed by a 70% industry-focused final semester.
Minister Saif highlighted the strong demand for software in the market but also noted a shortage of skilled IT workers. He expressed optimism that IT exports would increase to $4 billion, thanks to a recent decision by the State Bank of Pakistan, allowing IT companies to retain 50% of their earnings in dollar accounts.
In Pakistan, there are approximately 19,000 IT firms employing around 150,000 people. These outsourcing companies develop and export software and solutions.
The minister also addressed the issue of IT companies depositing their export earnings in foreign banks due to banking difficulties in Pakistan, resulting in an official figure of $2.6 billion in IT exports, while the actual number may be closer to $4.5 billion. The recent government decision allows IT companies to keep 50% of their earnings in dollar accounts and use them without needing bank approval, which supports the growth of the industry.
The government is working on an e-program to provide a space for freelancers to work, offering interest-free loans under the e-Rozgar program. This initiative will make workspace available to 500,000 freelancers in partnership with the private sector.
The government is also making efforts to facilitate online payment platforms like PayPal and Stripe, potentially within the next four to six weeks. Challenges related to international financial regulations have been considered, but the government remains optimistic.
Furthermore, corporate debit cards will be provided to these companies to facilitate international transactions.
The government is also committed to enhancing cybersecurity and preventing online data theft, with plans to establish a cybersecurity authority in the coming months.