‘IT exports can touch $5 billion mark by 2020’

KARACHI: Information Technology (IT) industry of Pakistan could touch exports of $5 billion mark by 2020 if proper business strategy, required infrastructure and talented human resources are made available to local companies in the coming years.
Haris Naseer Director at Infotech Group said Pakistan’s IT exports were presently estimated at $2 billion with quite good pace despite many challenges and issues to industry players.
No doubt, Pakistan is a country with a huge population and services sector is a catalyst to robust economy if their relationship is tied wisely with technology. But we need to invest in our young to convert them into a marketable service providing human resource. 
IT and IT-enabled services require investment only in development of Human Resources (HR). It does not require land or water, or tube wells or other typical physical requirements of traditional sectors. 
With an investment of a few hundred million dollars, we can generate significant streams of revenues including foreign exchange, taxes to government and enhance productivity and performance of private and public sector companies.
The annual requirement of HR is 25,000 resources per year as far as demand of fresh blood is concerned in IT industry. But the educational institutes having capacity to train high-class professionals for IT industry is limited to few like FAST, GIKI and LUMS. 
The tier two universities are indeed producing a lot of tech graduates, but their quality is somewhat questionable. 
All these students have great potential and there is no lack of commitment, but the need of the hour is for tech educationists and the tech industry to come together and collaborate in terms of teaching and training, Naseer added.
InfoTech is working with a couple of institutes to help them develop some courses for their undergraduate programmes. 
There is a need of more interaction between academia and industry, not only in IT sector but also in general. 
Some of the leading universities in the West have study-work-study programmes they offer, where students are placed at full time jobs during the course of their studies. And these are not internships. These are short-term jobs. 
Nasser pointed out the biggest challenge the IT industry facing currently was the global perception of Pakistan as a country. We are increasingly being identified as low-skilled and religious fanatics. 
Due to this reason, international companies are hesitant to go into longer-term contracts with Pakistani companies. 
We are doing the best to increase their awareness about our competencies and are making significant investment in bringing them to Pakistan to cement a positive image of our country. 
To overcome this issue, our trade policy should definitely include ways to improve lives of businesses and professionals trying to work globally. This can be achieved by having smart trade officers in our foreign missions.

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