Its high time the government should come up with
policies which can help stop the flow of massive foreign exchange out of
By SYED M. ASLAM
Feb-18 24, 2002
IT-related certifications are costing Pakistan tens
of millions of dollars each year. Pakistan houses a large population of
IT professionals carrying a range of certifications offered by some of
best globally known companies to not only prove their expertise but also
as a guarantee to get a visa to greener heavens in the developed West.
Pakistan also reportedly houses the largest number of
Microsoft Certified Professionals, particularly Microsoft Certified
Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD),
anywhere in the world. It also houses a large population of Java,
Oracle, NCR, IBM, CISCO certified professionals- in-the-making, new, and
already existing who have to upgrade their skills to the most recent
tracks to avoid being 'decertified.'
At present there are 146,231 MCSEs and 48,540 MCSDs
in Pakistan. As of January 4 this year Microsoft has changed the price
of Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exams to $ 125. Microsoft
introduced windows 2000 two years ago and updated it to XP track last
year. This means that to avoid being decertified 146,231 MCSEs and
48,540 MCSDs in Pakistan have to take exam in the new track costing each
of them $ 125 fee per exam. This means that these two premier Microsoft
certifications alone would have cost Pakistan 24.34 million dollars or
an equivalent of Rs 1.5 billion at the current exchange rate of Rs 60
per dollar if the exams were taken at present.
In not so distant past, and for that matter even at
present but to a much lesser degree, MCSE and MCSD has been viewed here
in Pakistan as one of the most coveted IT-related certification
guaranteeing a sure shot work or immigrant visa in the developed world.
The slump in the global economy and much stricter visa restrictions
imposed by the developed countries, particularly the US, after September
11 last year has slowed down the demand for certifications only
marginally in Pakistan. This has been primarily so as over 100,000 IT
professionals — including certificate, diploma and degree holders
still feel that certifications can help them find better paying jobs —
if not outside than here in the country. This is only partially true as
the local IT industry is able to absorb only a negligible portion of IT
professionals the population of which is increasing each year without
anywhere close increase in jobs.
There are some 56,000 Oracle certified professionals
in Pakistan. The certification for Oratech require passing four papers
each of which cost $ 85. To become an Oracle certified professional one
has to take exams in all the four papers costing him/her a total of $
340. To keep the certification valid the existing certificate holders
have also to take exams to avoid decertification. This means that the
existing Oratech certified professionals would have to spend $ 340 each
to take the exams to avoid being decertified. This also means that the
existing 56,000 Oratech certificate holders would have to collectively
pay over $19 million or over 1.14 billion rupees to keep their
certification up to date.
There are also about 11,221 Java certified
professionals in Pakistan. The fee for Java certification, which require
clearance of any one paper, is $ 150 which translates into $ 1,683,150
or over 101 million rupees at current exchange rates for the existing
certified professionals in case a new track is introduced.
PAGE has only tried to highlight some of the most
popular certifications to highlight the massive flow of precious foreign
exchange out of the country. The above list does not include a range of
many other IT-related certifications offered by other companies. This
include NCR Data certifications, IBM's lotus notebook certification
which costs $ 175 per paper and Cisco Certified Network Programmer (CCNP)
and Network Engineer (CCNE) which costs $ 125 per paper. There are just
so many certifications, range of certifications and companies offering
these certifications that it is just not possible to mention them all.
However, it would be safe to say that these certifications are costing
the country a substantial volume of foreign exchange.
The scenario highlights the need to formulate a
relevant policy by the Ministry of Science and Technology to bring IT
testing and certification under its ambit. This will not only ensure
quality of certification but also to ensure genuine certification. The
absence of such a policy is not only depriving the government a
substantial amount of direct or indirect revenue from arrangements with
companies offering certifications here in Pakistan. It is also
tarnishing the image of the country as many non-professionals have been
able to get the certifications through illegal means such as a qualified
person taking the exam on behalf of an unqualified acquaintance or
friend. That also explains why certifications issued here are not
accepted in many parts of the developed world as an otherwise certified
professional fails to match it up in practise.
Most of all, its high time the government should come
up with policies which can help stop the flow of massive foreign
exchange out of the country, if not fully than at least partially.