IT: THE FUTURE CHALLENGES
The IT education and training sector is the most busy sector nowadays.
By ATEEQ M. KHAN,
CEO, Gem Net
Feb 26 - Mar 04, 2001
Pakistan's inter city and intra city telecommunication network is far superior to our neighbouring countries. This fact has been admitted and printed in several references. The problem area is customer support and maintenance of networks. This can be improved with better management and proper recruitment and training of concerned staff members. PTCL has recently announced some projects and created some posts to address this issue. Let us see how long they take to implement it. The deadlines we know are June 2001 for privatization of PTCL and December 2002 for end of its monopoly. So we hope things will move faster. Only recently we have heard downsizing and call for strikes from concerned employees union — hallmark of publicly owned organizations going private.
Availability of Internet is again far superior to our arch rival. They have recently started doing things which we have been for the last so many years. The only difference is that they seem to learn faster and avoid mistakes that we have made! Things like License Fees and Royalty are being dealt with smartly by them. Reduction in prices of International telecommunications, permission of telephony (use of voice over internet), reduction in bandwidth prices and opening of sector to all are some of the steps that they have performed either earlier or simultaneously. Hence they are catching up fast and their sheer size will outpace us in near future. But nothing to worry about because we have achieved in terms of infrastructure and facilities required. Internet connectivity has been spread to hundreds of towns and cities and soon it will be available at petrol pumps, railway stations, airports, post offices etc. Reduction in bandwidth prices have made us one of the most competitive in the region.
Our software developers and engineers are doing wonders in US and other countries. This clearly shows potential of our human resource. The large exodus of competent manpower from our country is nothing to worry about but shall be tackled with by producing more and more software engineers and developers in short time. Government has taken initiative in the right direction and private education sector is providing full support in this regard. The only concern should be quality. Lack of proper infrastructure and highly skilled trainers are the main hurdles. Distance Learning Programs and Virtual Universities may help in overcoming this shortcoming. English as second language is another advantage that our people have for US markets and employers.
Medical Transcription, Call Centre and Off shore software development facilities are some of the areas which demand quick involvement from local investors, VC funds and entrepreneurs. This will help us in earning foreign exchange in near future. The proper facility build up and collaboration with US markets require strong financial support. This is a long term business and require serious planning and funding. This is not like dot com boom, which busted with a large bang in US last year.
The IT education and training sector is the most busy sector nowadays. People are rushing towards these institutions and programs. However, like all disciplines, one should keep in mind that it is not everybody's ball game. In depth knowledge of science, maths and good command over English are some of the prerequisites for this discipline. Natural aptitude is another factor to be considered. This is a very mind boggling and stick to chair type of field where you may be sitting in front of computer for 18 hours a day. Hence if your aptitude suits marketing then do not try to become a programmer, it just won't work. People leaving their jobs and professions to become programmers and network administrators should consider twice before opting for this field. Another factor which has fuelled this trend is job opportunities in US and other countries. People even in order to get visa are giving up everything else and looking for an IT certificate or degree. This is not a good sign for the industry itself as soon there will be a crowd of all sorts of degree and certificate holders and you as employer will reject the genuine one also due to sheer fatigue of finding the right person.
In the long run only hard work, consistency, clear cut goals and objectives and honesty take an individual or company to the top — there was no, there is no and there will not be any short cut to success in any field you opt. This holds true for IT also. We as a nation will have to do everything in proper way to succeed.