Multan   -   Pakistani youth is turning smarter with a variety of skills and geared up to pedalling the national economy to new highs and helping themselves in making the mark on the world Gig economy as freelancers.

Thanks to their ongoing romance with the web government job space, they no more resemble the likes of Baboos of yesterday years but more talented and practical with guts and wits to take on the inflation onslaught and joblessness does not worry them.

Baboo had been a popular term over the decades, denoting a character able to be a bread winner for a family through the government job. But it had worn a sarcastic tinge with the passage of time after limited jobs left many educated individuals wandering around in vain with job applications in pocket.

But, time has changed. Now they are no more jobless and turning out to be charismatic individuals on worldwide web and information communications technologies gifted by the 21st century. All they need is a computer and a work station to find their way to a successful career path.

“Not long ago, youngsters’ dream career idea revolved around a chair, a desk, some documents to sign, some letters to draft and draw salary,” said Dr Irfan Jafar, Dean Computer Science, Superior University Lahore. “However, things have changed for good. Youngsters are now powerful enough to leave that orbit to master their destiny.”

Jafar said Pakistan has witnessed an exponential surge in freelancing during last few years, mostly during the COVID-19 epidemic. “Freelancing was making inroads fast among the Pakistani youth.”

According to different data sources, freelance earnings in Pakistan had grown substantially during last few years with freelancers earning millions of dollars during Covid-19 wave. And this journey continues with more and more freelancers joining the squad in an effort to earn money for themselves and the country.

“The best thing about freelancers was the platforms where their work speaks for themselves and they no more need any reference or backing to become an earning hand,” remarked Prof Dr Irfan Ahmad Baig from Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture (MNSUA), Multan.

“Pakistan is among the most popular destination and countries in the world of freelancers and has started earning millions of dollars from freelancing,” said Prof Dr Baig quoting local and international labour index. “Pakistani youth has fuelled the Gig economy and number of freelancers is growing bigger.”

According to Payoneer global freelancing index, there was 42 per cent increase in Pakistani freelancers since second quarter of 2018, contributed by a very young population, 70 per cent of whom under 30, and most of them having acquired technically-oriented training and education.

Global Gig Economy Index of Payoneer has also ranked Pakistan among top ten fast growing countries in freelance earning including US, UK, Brazil, Pakistan, Ukraine, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Russia and Serbia.

Vice Chancellor MNSUA, Prof Dr Asif Ali said that Pakistan’s potential to accrue benefits from the Gig economy was far larger than what it has so far demonstrated. “Some countries had taken the lead in adopting the Silicon Valley model. But, potential of Pakistani talent is none to less in taking strides in IT sector. We will be closing in soon.”

Arham Jamal, a software engineer used to work for software houses at Lahore a few years back when he first time opted for free lancing. “Today, I work as freelancer from my home city Vehari and earn double or triple than salary from a software house.”

Humayun Khan Babar, a freelancer says that a message” One million freelancers in Pakistan” would emerge after a click on the Google with relevant key words.

Babar, an IT educationist has identified three main venues on web space being adopted by freelancers including Vlogging on video sites; ecommerce; and a third window provided by web sites, outsourcing projects, big or small, to freelancers already registered with their gigs.

He said in ecommerce, youngsters are mostly working on Amazon and product listing is the initial or basic job beginners are doing.

When seen in individual perspective, freelancing has also emerged as a panacea to financial problems of the low income group students who can bear educational expenses through freelancing.

“If a student can earn more than Rs15,000 per month by spending a few hours at a home based office, it is not a bad deal,” said Abdullah Iftikhar, a BS Honours environmental sciences student of BZU Multan.

“Parents should encourage their kids to get engaged in money earning through online businesses instead of futile internet surfing,” he suggested.

Dr Irfan Jafar also recalled how the short freelancing courses he launched at the university brought in sufficient amount to his computer science students in just four months. “It was good amount to meet their expenses and pay fees.”

Freelancers are among the local application developers and a major driving force behind the IT companies and growth of the computer software sector in Pakistan. There are approximately 3,000 registered local companies involved in a variety of applications development for domestic and corporate use.

Pakistan attaches great importance to IT development and respective government have introduced policies to encourage local and foreign investment in this sector and boost IT related exports. It is high time to harness the potential of our youth for excelling in the IT sector instead of futile politicking