So, I met another brilliant person who previously had no plans to go abroad, but is now planning to follow the band wagon because of the current country situation and career growth.

This is real hard time for our industry, and I feel that the situation is getting worse every day. We have good professionals going out and are being accepted happily because of global shortage of talented resources. As a result, our nation and industry are losing. This comes at a crucial time when Pakistan is finally beginning to get recognized in the world as a business destination to consider.

The irony here is that after so many …

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There is a storm coming that will suck out our brains – are we ready?

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So, I met another brilliant person who previously had no plans to go abroad, but is now planning to follow the band wagon because of the current country situation and career growth.

This is real hard time for our industry, and I feel that the situation is getting worse every day. We have good professionals going out and are being accepted happily because of global shortage of talented resources. As a result, our nation and industry are losing. This comes at a crucial time when Pakistan is finally beginning to get recognized in the world as a business destination to consider.

The irony here is that after so many years when we finaly get the recognition to atleast stand next to our competitors because of a large untapped talent pool and desire to beat the odds, we start losing our key talents.

Read on for background and more thoughts of the future impact of this to our industry.

Going abroad has always been a dream of majority of our nation from as long as i can remember. Each section of society thinks that the ultimate achievement of life is you get out of the country and go to either gulf or uk/usa.

Previously, the main flux was nontech people. With the advent of Internet and technology, the work you do here can be done abroad without any difference except that there you get dollars or dirhams — people find this hard to resist, even if the life is tough and the surroundings alien. This change has been taking our experienced talent away from us on regular basis.

There was a brief pause in this out flow after 9/11 which saw a stop of people going out due to problems in Visa specially for Pakistanis, which can be seen as a blessing in disguise for the industry. Even though it also slowed down the outsourcing business heavily. but it transformed our industry into a self reliant one in which most companies started looking in-house for projects or places besides the US and also starting working on Products and development of proper sales channels.

It also provided the industry the much needed stability in the employee base, and we saw people staying back and gaining experience for multiple years benefiting the organizations alot — all of which has finally begun to make this industry something to be noticed.

However it seems that the good times are gone again and the gates are opening again — this time specifically targeting our tech workers. The policies they have designed are so easy that a person with 4-5 years of experience gets a fair chance of getting a visa and landing in foreign land in a matter of 6 months to 1 year. with talks of US raising the cap for H-1 visas and UK already capitalizing on HSMP visa (which if you have the right skill and experience you can get in matter of days and not even weeks) we can expect the things to get worse.

The timing couldn’t be worse – because of the recognition our industry is getting because of Scrybe and others, there is an increase in the inflow of work, and I fear we will soon be seeing a time when we wont be accepting projects just due to the fact that we don’t have talent available to tackle this, and thus practically handing opportunities to our competitors on silver platters.

There are much bigger, critical and disastrous implications of this.

As the talent begins to move out again, the ones who remain back become scarce resources — even though they may have no skills or talent to justify their work, the scarcity would drive pays upward, making it even more difficult for a company to get projects on competitive pricing. Organizations get expensive resources which do not always perform optimally.

The academics side of the industry seems to be bent on only on producing PhDs, but this wouldn’t help because these guys never enter the industry but instead go for teaching jobs. We will soon be in a place where we will have a lot of Phds teaching and no real hardcore talent to handle the work which is coming in. For the immediate term, the situation is only going to get worse.

I always try to advise young people to stay home and reap the benefits of being near the family and still earn good pays as things are getting rosy for workers here, but still the ratio who realizes this is very small, so sometimes I cant help feeling helpless and think that I might be wrong in my thinking and maybe going abroad is the right thing to do.

What can be a practical and achievable strategy and put a stop to it? Do we need to start an internal branding campaign that educate parents who still dont realize that software pays are so well? Do we need to get people like Osama, Jawwad Farid or Jehan Ara etc, to give out nationwide motivational speeches on the future of this Industry? There are still confused students who think going out will solve all the problems in the world and Pakistan is the worst place to have a career.

Any Ideas?

Facebook comments:


  • After 9/11 expats started to revert to the homeland, initiated bases with plans of moving families and winding up abroad in few years. However, the corrupt system, lawlessness and political uncertainty made them take their decisions back.

    We are unfortunate as a nation that we failed to capitalize on these assets. We are, instead, facilitating “foreign investors” who are sucking the economy dry, remitting 100% profits back and will wind up in 3-4 years. Prime example is banking sector where foreign banks are allowed up to 30% profit remittance so that in 3 years that would have their money back and then can wind up at any time.

    With increasing oil prices, exponentially expanding trade deficit, falling dollar, war in northern areas and suicide bombings across the country, its better to relocate now, otherwise it will be too late.

  • we can’t resolve power generation issue. How can we convince youth to stay in Pakistan?

  • Qazi, this important question comes across my table everyday, interestingly in both directions, i.e. in the form of candidates who want to go abroad and candidates who want to come back to Pakistan. In my business, Recruitment, I’m supposed to provide qualified and experienced professionals to foreign clients, basically Gulf-oriented looking for experienced IT professionals like Oracle 10g gurus, .net developers, Java wizards, network hawks etc. And there are overseas Pakistanis with certain niche skills, who have expertise in domains never heard of in Pakistan or never worked upon either, willing to come back. Within these overseas professionals, there is a certain lot who will go for a niche’ start-up and open vistas for new areas of Business development. Hence, if we have a good outflow vs. inflow of resources, it will be healthy for the industry and economy too. If more people leave the country, I agree there will be a shortage of talent and it would become quite difficult to deliver quality.

    Recently, I came in contact with placement cells of few Uni’s and according to them whatever their students who opt for IT, find work easily in their domains, in different of the fact what kind of Quality they are able to exhibit in practice. The major concern of especially government turned autonomous universities is placing students from disciplines like Statistic, Botany etc. In my observation, the problem these students face once they step into professional world is the gap between the industry and the curriculum. The industry is so busy in what they are doing, advancing at such a rapid pace that the majority of our students have no career counseling before they step into the cruel Career making.

    The issue of go or not to go has become favorite dinnertime topic at my house too. My family is of the view that this is high time to apply for immigration, keeping in view my age and options (p.s. I’m 30). I agree with them on the part that after a struggle of few years (1.5 initial processing and 4 years there in Australia) we would be sawing the seeds of success for the kids, who would benefit a better value for life, better education and even if we decide to come back later on they can go for their higher studies. My only fear are those unknown 4 years!

    I hope we as a nation get some serenity back in our heads and some optimism to lead a successful life peaceful with dignity and under a wise ruler. Until that happen keep exploring options.

  • Dear G&W,

    One of our very senior FASTian alumnus has recently returned to Pakistan. He has written a short guide for his fellows still working in the US. I think it would be an interesting read for your visitors: http://returningtopakistan.blogspot.com/

  • I could not agree more with Kashif and Adnan. Political situation is rather important as well, I mean the moment you switch on the television, it’s violence everywhere and I am not talking about Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s suicide bombings in Karachi, Islamabad and street crime in Lahore. Also, can you imagine a Software Engineer ever being able to own a house or even an apartment with our current pay structures. The pay structure of course can be adjusted by the companies but the law and order that is up to government and it does not look, that it is getting better any time soon.

  • “We will soon be in a place where we will have a lot of Phds teaching”
    mis perception that Phds will only teach. In Pakistan, we don’t have strong relationship between universities and industry otherwise it’s almost always universities or research institute at the forefront of industrial growth through their novel ideas.
    Since we are not accustomed to Phds working in industry, its unusual for us but its common practice in developed world

  • BitterTruth, the problem with PhDs in pakistan i have seen (and I have met few HEC phds) is that this is why they come to get this degree to teach and have a good life i have yet to see a PhD who would defy the comforts of teach ( a couple of hours lecture a day and sit in office rest of the time) and go do real research or work with an organization doing such thing.

  • Jaywalker, thanks for sharing it really is a good guide

  • I guess recent events makes these predictions even more important to consider?

  • Lets see how the outsourcing industry is impacted through “Emergency Proclamation”. The immigration of telent was motivated for learning and money – With growing Pakistani IT and offshoring, the IT industry in Paksitan was able to attract and retain talented indivisuals – Lets see, how shock absorbant our infant IT industry is?

  • Well, this situation will act like a catalyst, friends i know who previously had no plans what so ever and even had family conditions which would make it almost impossible for them to move out otherwise, are planning to do so although for them previously it was almost impossible for them to even think about it. Lets pray we show them some miracles here to change their minds.

  • Qazi i do agree to your analysis on micro level, what are your thoughts on macro level to Pakistani IT industry. Any reports of delayed projects or impact on Pakistani IT industry. Do you have any insight to how offshoring ( which is primarily the major source of revenue ) will be impacted by the situation, especially the call centers.
    May be “jobs trend on rozee.pk” can act as a proxy variable.

  • Hira, nice idea to monitor job trends on rozee. I came across a report on newspapers namely Dawn, Jang etc. by PU students, I’ll try to get hold of that report and share here.

    On a Macro level, 2 incidents I have came across.

    a) A US company having a very small foot print here was planning a major marketing drive right before the Emergency announcement and have tied up with numerous companies and some Govt. sector orgs. But due to the announcement they have to pull the plug, hence wasting there 1 year of effort. And no clue how ro go about continuing there presence and keeping up the BD drive.

    Another company working for some clients in gulf having some potential clients coming in for Demo’s and meetings were coming in around the same time. Now, the companies BD staff have to fly to Dubai and setup everything from there. Costs $! Its going to cost them on-shoring rather than off-shoring.

    Qazi, the miracle would be the following:
    – Acknowledging Human Capital as an asset
    – Better Managers hence no man-handling
    – Pay rates are already at there peak, its time to bring in perks
    – Start-ups start sharing with the employees

  • Salman, in principle these are valid points but there surprising employees refuse perks and demand pay – its been reported by MNCs offering 22inch monitors and “luxury cubes” as perks, and with employees in startups willing to offer equity. There was a great debate on TechLahore’s blog about it.

    It is a matter of the perceived value of your product – your employees may be able to perceive the value if they have the experience to appreciate it.

    From the startups where the employees are taking equity (other than Alchemy) most of them are working on social networking or you-tubesque projects… basically things that those employees would understand.

    We have had a little trouble getting people to care about perks because our product is based on research that started back in the 1950’s and in behavioral trends.

    Lets start by trying to convince someone that firms will pay higher salaries when they’re not doing anything interesting enough to be able to retain you. “How much of your salary are you willing to sacrifice today for the premium experience you are getting at our firm” – if you get candidates who understand that question then you know that you can hire that person

  • There was some news that Weblo was going to start a campaign in Pakistan to launch weblo locally — Im not sure if they were affected by the recent talk as well.

  • I had an opportunity to work with exciting startups and i nerrate “his” thoughts

    1. Infosys evaluated its Human Capital and put it in its balance sheet as well ! Infosys really evolved the thinking of considering its employees as human capital

    2. Perks do cost extra! and at the end of day that cant be quantified and you cant boost off your take away with other friends. For a “collective” society like ours, lump sum salary is a good indicator-

    3. Start-ups start sharing equity. My friend, who also runs at high-tech startup laughs at this. According to him
    “Most of his Pakistani friends, want to join the running wagon and want to get hold of the equity, without really putting in efforts”.

    As Osama mentioned, equity can be given to Employees for “high-risk” projects like social networking etc – I am not known to companies with stable cash flows.

    In my experience, i have yet to come across someone who can put in 200% in return of an equity. I have seen many people doing this for a cash compensation:)

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