KARACHI: Pakistan Information Technology and Telecommunications Ministry (MoITT) is all geared up to execute ‘DigiSkills’ training project (DSTP), aiming to train one million people across the country over a period of 2 years. The Ignite (formerly National ICT R&D Fund Company) has invited bids through a request for proposal (RFP) for implementation of DSTP on a national level. According to the RFP document, the DSTP aims to increase number of individuals working as freelancers in the country, number of hours worked per freelancer, earnings per hour or per project for freelancers, household incomes, financial inclusion, IT exports, and number of experts in specialised skills. The DSTP comprises of three interlinked projects including DigiSkills training project, DigiSkills outreach project, and DigiSkills monitoring & evaluation (M&E) Project. The key scope of DSTP project is to develop a web based training platform and learning management system, along with development of necessary training content to enable one million Pakistanis to enrol and take free online training courses. Under this project, trainees will be offered the opportunity to obtain free online training in areas of “freelancing” and “specialized skills” across Pakistan. The DigiSkills outreach project is designed to train around one million target audience which would be comprised of freelancers, vocational trainees, matric/O level students, intermediate/A level students, under graduates, housewives, journalists, graduates, motivated and passionate students, employed, self employed, and unemployed. The MoITT said online outsourcing industry is expected to generate gross revenue between $15 billion and $25 billion by 2020. Major chunk of this online outsourcing industry is being taken by individuals having necessary & relevant skills required to complete such temporary assignments and project or contract-based work. “Millions of individuals around the world are tapping into the opportunity and earning money while working from the comfort of their homes. This trend is expected to grow as the creative destruction caused by fourth industrial wave continues to disrupt business processes and models,” said the MoITT. The ministry further added that Pakistan is the world’s fourth largest provider of such online freelancers. Most of the work done is for international clients; therefore money earned by them is brought into the country, mainly as foreign remittances. While accurate data on money brought by freelancers is not available, estimates range from $500 million to $1.3 billion annually. This amount is just a fraction of the country’s potential as, with its large population, increasing internet connectivity, broadband penetration, young & educated youth, thousands of IT graduates and million plus enrolled university students, Pakistan can increase the number of freelancers manifold, said the MoITT. The MoITT envisaged that the project will help bring in valuable foreign exchange into the country, and more importantly, reduce unemployment as the number of fresh graduates every year is a lot more than number of new jobs created. Published in Daily Times, November 18th 2017.