Pakistan: Untapping The Hidden Potential In Freelancing Industry – OpEd


With the advancement of technology, the mode of employment has evolved, and it is now known as the gig economy or remote employment. In this era of fast technological progress, Pakistan is seeing an enormous shift in its economic environment. While the country has historically depended on traditional workforce and manufacturing sectors, an enormous change is taking place as it becomes one of the top five countries embracing the freelancing revolution. Pakistan has firmly established itself as the world’s fourth fastest-growing freelance market, as recognized by the Oxford International Institute through its Online Global Index. 

Freelancing is catching Pakistan by storm, and it is altering the economy in fascinating ways. Freelancing is transforming Pakistan’s economy for the digital age, creating a world of opportunities for every individual with internet access and competencies to contribute. The expansion of freelancing is boosting Pakistan’s economic growth, with the country now ranking fourth in terms of freelancing activity. Freelancers earn and spend more money, which benefits local companies.

According to many reports, Pakistan’s freelancing employment has increased by more than 70% since 2016. This growth of freelancers is reshaping the labour sector and economy. Many young Pakistanis have turned to freelancing to generate income. Platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer make it simple for people to find freelance work in fields such as software development, writing, virtual support, and more. The flexibility and freedom that freelancing offers appeals to Pakistan’s significant youth population. Freelancing enables individuals to work from anywhere and on their own schedule.

This autonomy attracts to young, technologically aware Pakistanis looking for alternatives to regular office occupations. Internet usage in Pakistan increased by more than 150% between 2015 and 2020, with over 80 million internet users presently. More than 60% of the population currently has mobile broadband connection. The COVID-19 epidemic has also pushed the trend towards remote working. 

While freelancing gives people more freedom and flexibility, it also generates new digital opportunities, allows more women to work, and diversifies Pakistan’s economy. The growing popularity of freelancing additionally generated new chances for women to enter the industry. Cultural and societal hurdles sometimes impede women’s involvement in traditional employment. However, freelancing enables women to work from home, create their own schedules, and keep their independence. This freedom has allowed many Pakistani women to pursue freelance employment in writing, graphic design, and online teaching. 

The emergence of freelancing illustrates Pakistan’s immense potential to dominate the global digital economy. Freelancing is altering Pakistan’s economy in significant ways. Every year, freelancers earn more than $1 billion in revenue for the Pakistani economy. This extra money is spent on local goods and services, which benefits other companies. Furthermore, this industry has produced over 100,000 employments in Pakistan and continues to develop significantly. This helps to address the nation’s elevated rate of unemployment in a scalable manner. Many freelancers end up founding their own businesses, which creates additional jobs. Freelancing’s flexibility allows people to get creative with company ideas without having to quit their jobs.

Some freelancers create whole agencies and studios. Over 60% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30, and freelancing provides young people with economic opportunities and freedom. Young Pakistanis acquire confidence and experience by working for themselves. According to the Economic Survey, in FY2023, freelancers contributed USD269.8 million to foreign exchange profits. The IT industry generated USD156.9 million in foreign exchange, while the non-IT sector added USD112.9 million to the reserves.

Challenges for Freelancing Industry

As thrilling as Pakistan’s freelancing transformation has been, the community still confronts a number of obstacles that threaten to stifle its growth. While Pakistani universities generate many outstanding graduates, the education system fails to keep up with the cutting-edge digital skills required in the global freelancing economy.

Few colleges provide programs in UI/UX design, data science, and digital marketing. Freelancers frequently have costs for additional online training to improve their abilities, which is not an expense everyone can afford. Furthermore, most freelancing sites do not enable payments to Pakistani bank accounts due to restrictions imposed by PayPal and other payment processors. Freelancers are required to employ middlemen to obtain payments, which can reduce their profits by up to 20% in costs. 

The government should encourage global payment providers to help the Pakistani freelancing community. Pakistan’s independent community has immense potential to fuel economic progress, but it still needs help to overcome these structural obstacles. Pakistan can maximize the potential of its freelance talent by enhancing access to global payments, investing in digital skills education, and legally recognizing freelancing as an industry. The freelancing revolution has begun, and with the proper guidance, it has the potential to completely revolutionize Pakistan’s economy.

To flourish as a freelancer, one must acquire in-demand technical and soft abilities. As more Pakistanis learn skills in IT, programming, digital marketing, and content production, the talent pool will expand to satisfy the demands of enterprises seeking freelancers. Educational programs and online courses aimed at developing freelancing abilities will open up new prospects. As firms throughout the world adopt more flexible work patterns, the need for freelancers will increase.

Freelancers in Pakistan can enter the international freelance employment market in industries such as software development, graphic design, virtual support, and more. Platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and 99Designs make it simple for freelancers to identify employment opportunities and apply for them. The freelance economy in Pakistan is still emerging, but it has a lot of promise for the future. With the correct investments in infrastructure, education, and policy, Pakistan has the potential to become a major freelancing centre in South Asia, creating additional possibilities for its significant young and vibrant population. 

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