ISLAMABAD-In an era of rapid technological advancement, Pakistan is witnessing a transformative shift in its economic landscape. While the country has long relied on traditional labour and industrial markets, a remarkable change is underway as it emerges as one of the top five nations embracing the freelance revolution.
Pakistan has firmly secured its position as the fourth fastest-growing freelance market globally, a recognition bestowed by the prestigious Oxford International Institute through its Online Global Index. Esteemed international organizations have consistently advocated for harnessing the immense potential that Pakistan possesses, thanks to its youthful population, with a remarkable 64 percent being under the age of 30.
In Fiscal year 2022, Pakistan’s fragile economy received a much-needed boost as it generated a staggering almost $ 400 million in export-related income through freelancing. This financial injection underscores the immense potential of this sector to revitalize the nation’s economic prospects for benefits of its people.
National Skills University (NSU) is at the forefront of equipping Pakistan’s workforce with the skills required for the freelance industry. Offering courses in graphic design, video editing, cyber security, and more, these programs are tailored to meet the demands of the digital economy.
Dr. Shahid Anwar, an assistant professor at NSU, proudly shares success stories of students securing positions abroad, emphasizing the potential of this industry to create international job opportunities. Tahir Nadeem, an individual with multiple freelance certifications, emphasizes that it’s never too late to learn, highlighting the importance of upskilling in this evolving landscape.
Kazim Mushtaq, a freelance professional, attests, “freelancers are their own bosses and true power of freelancing lies in its flexibility.” This newfound autonomy not only brings relief but also substantial earnings, as some individuals are earning over Rs 300,000 monthly. The ability to work on one’s terms represents a game-changing shift in the traditional employment paradigm, he remarked.
“Despite its potential, there exists a gap between academic learning and practical application in freelancing,” Ms. Huma Israr, a lecturer at NSU, acknowledges the need to bridge this gap and endorses courses offered by various universities as a means to prepare students for real-world challenges. These programmes equip students with the skills necessary to thrive in the freelance ecosystem.
Dr. Shahid Anwar offers a cautionary note on the potential pitfalls of freelancing. He highlights the prevalence of online scams, the aftermath of the PayPal crisis, and a lack of awareness among the masses. He advises freelancers to exercise caution, emphasizing the importance of maintaining clear communication through freelancing platforms.
While freelancing offers financial freedom, Dr. Imran Ihsan, an assistant professor at AIR University, reminds us of its double-edged nature. Relying solely on freelancing can jeopardize stability and social standing. He encourages aspiring freelancers to keep their options open, recognizing the need for a diversified income stream.
A Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication official highlighted significant potential in Digital Services, Content Creation, E-commerce, Social Media Management, SEO and SEM, Data Entry and Analysis, Translation and Localization, Programming and IT, Consulting and Coaching, Legal and Financial Services, and Health and Wellness sectors. These offer opportunities to tap skilled talent and generate substantial domestic and international revenue.
Globally, over 47% of the workforce is engaged in freelancing, marking a seismic shift in the economic landscape. Platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and more have millions of users, underlining the widespread adoption of this mode of work. Pakistan’s embrace of freelancing reflects a significant opportunity to invigorate its economy.
Freelancing is now a global powerhouse, reshaping economies worldwide. For Pakistan, this evolving landscape is a lifeline for its fragile economy. As awareness and acceptance of freelancing expand and skills translate into real-world applications, Pakistan’s economic resurgence depends on the strength of its freelance industry.