‘Country needs to shift towards skill-based training’

Published: August 6, 2019


LAHORE: There is a serious need to revamp Pakistan’s education system from theory-based to skill-based training, at least in the areas of information technology and computer science, as currently courses being offered by the country’s educational institutes are outdated, suggested Sadaffe Abid, founder of Circle, a women-oriented entrepreneurial initiative.

“We don’t need four-year degree programmes, instead, our IT education system should be geared towards skill-based training and digital skills as so many new professions in this particular field are appearing rapidly, creating a gap between the academia and industry,” Abid pointed out in an interview with The Express Tribune.

Vocational training — the key to reducing youth unemployment

She said shifting from four-year degree programmes towards diplomas, which bring creativity and development in IT students, was the need of the hour to give a boost to technology-based initiatives and further develop the start-up ecosystem in the country.

“Pakistan should invest in this particular area as technology is the future and an important tool to empower women, who are currently not participating actively in the country’s economy,” she said.

The Circle founder, through her initiative, is trying to empower female workforce in the start-up ecosystem.

“There are many challenges a founder of any start-up faces, however, the magnitude of challenges women are facing in this particular field is much more than that for men,” she said.

The Circle founder is running three programmes to discover female talent in underprivileged areas and help develop their tech ideas. For instance, one of the programmes includes supporting 50 girls, residing in Lyari town of Karachi, by creating a technology hub at a place where girls are learning different digital skills and freelancing for better income.

“As per the World Bank, active participation of Pakistan’s female labour force in the economy is below 35% and no country can progress excluding women, unfortunately, their participation in the economy has not increased as we are not leveraging the talent of half of our population,” she said.

“By starting such initiatives, we have discovered that these can revolutionise lives of females as they are much quick to learn and adopt new skills.”

Talking about the overall start-up ecosystem, she said the area was still developing in Pakistan but over the years the country had made some progress. “The biggest achievement is that there are many incubation centres working across the county where you have access to mentors.

“International companies and experts have started making frequent visits to Pakistan to participate in different conferences and workshops, but we should remember that it is a challenging field and there should be resilience in experiments and the product should be refined constantly,” Abid said.

As most of the start-ups failed in first three years of their inception globally, she said Pakistan had the same ratio. “Around 80-90% start-ups failed globally and in Pakistan too, during first three years, fewer than 20% start-ups survived, but the idea is to learn quickly, fail fast and move on to the next stage, and this is the whole game of start-ups,” she added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2019.

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