Pakistani youth don’t have it easy, there is intense pressure to succeed in professional life and meet numerous expectations of parents and extended family. The ever-increasingly competitive world and social media, flashing constant images of other people’s success, make it more difficult for the youth to focus.

Ironically, focus, combined with self-belief and the right information, is necessary to build and maintain a successful career.

The top five professionals expected to be in great demand in the world as well as Pakistan in the next decade include data analysts & scientists, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data specialists, digital marketing & strategy specialists and business development professionals.

This data is based on the Future of Jobs Report, launched by the World Economic Forum in 2020.

When examining the list of top emerging professional fields, one notices that technical skills are required in roughly three key areas: digital skills, content writing and marketing/sales. The good news for young professionals is that the demand for skilled workers is high and many jobs can be performed remotely or from home. Pakistani youth now have a higher chance of securing a competitive income and enter the global job market.

Payoneer, an online payment platform for freelance service providers, in 2021 declared Pakistan to be among the top four countries that freelancers are coming from and this number is expected to increase. This means Pakistanis can benefit from the rising freelancing global economy. There is a catch–jobseekers will need to put the time in to learn a craft or key technical skill from the basic digital marketing and communication skills to set up a successful freelancing career to gain clients or get employed by leading companies in 2022 and beyond.

The set of key critical skills, which employers classify as ‘personal development skills,’ are also crucial to make the most of these growing professional opportunities. These skills have practical value across numerous different professions, they require time and experience to develop but can also be learned through practice and relevant specialised courses.

Furthermore, the jobseekers need to have a realistic understanding of the three key factors that impact securing a job. They are: the perceived value of your skill; the hiring needs of the company or client and personal background (added value that one can bring about) like whether you are referred by a trusted source, you come from a brand university or are you are a top performer academically. All these factors to a varying degree play a part in successfully securing a job.

Moreover, if the prospective employees can communicate the value they bring to the company, they will have a greater chance of being shortlisted or hired. Hiring trends will continue to evolve as economies grow but outstanding communication skills and personal perseverance is vital despite the trends. Another thing to keep in mind is that continuous learning is the way forward. No one degree can guarantee permanent successful employment, as demonstrated by the pandemic. It will be the ability to adapt to the growing needs of the world economy, for which citizens will continuously need to pick up new skills and knowledge.

Pakistan’s technical education sector is still not fully developed to meet the learning demands of its 82 million strong and young workforce or the hiring demands of employers both in Pakistan and abroad. Limited infrastructure, including access to the necessary digital infrastructure means that most of the population is unable to benefit from the rising professional prospects. The uneven socioeconomic development of the country continues to rob its citizens of income-generating opportunities.

There are several private institutes offering educational courses in the professions expected to grow the jobseekers can enroll in. Another option is to travel and study abroad, which is an expensive and arduous process for most Pakistanis. However, there are some institutes and organisations established by the government offering free-of-cost training and programmes at more affordable prices in comparison to private and international institutes.

Below is a list of three government-based institutes that provide training to the youth to advance their technical skill development and support their entry in the job market or launch of businesses.

I. Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF): The PSDF funds and offers training in over 250 trades and has a selection of onsite, online, and hybrid training. It has partnered up with international e-learning platforms like Coursera to offer training from top international universities and companies in demand-driven and popular skills, including coveted digital skills.

II. National Incubation Center (NIC): The NIC works exclusively on conducting training and supporting entrepreneurs to start their business or start-ups. It provides training on how to market, scale and launch a business. It organises networking events, bringing successful entrepreneurs and potential investors and workshops on tech and IT related topics.

III. Technical, Educational and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA): Tevta offers training courses in several different fields and works on providing technical skill development.

There are also national loan programmes for those who want to start their business, which provide loans to citizens aiming to expand their businesses or launch new businesses.

The journey towards creating a career that both pays the bills and is intellectually fulfilling is challenging but today more than ever, young people in the country have an opportunity to base their educational and career decisions on facts and global hiring trends.

(The writer is a global communications & marketing expert)

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2022

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