NIC and the future of Pakistan’s workforce, with CEO Ignite

In little over a year’s time, Ignite – The National Technology Fund, has set up five National Incubation Centres (NICs) across the country, having incubated more than 200 startups since launching in 2016. These NICs, located in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta, are run by private partners and form a nation-wide effort to facilitate the innovation ecosystem in Pakistan.

Administered by Pakistan’s Ministry of IT and Telecommunication, Ignite’s official mandate is to build the country’s knowledge economy through funding innovative business ideas and enabling commercialisation of research in technology areas.

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Leading the charge is CEO Ignite, Yusuf Hussain. Born and raised in Islamabad, he is a graduate of Rice University and UT Austin in the US, and is one of those leaders that believes negativity and cynicism can be a cancer for the country’s morale.

Watch this interview to learn about NIC’s mission; the skills people need to nurture innovation; the challenges Pakistan faces in IT-enabled exports; how reading is key for professional growth and scale; and what Yusuf Hussain thinks will define the future of Pakistan’s workforce.

Also watch:  Meet the young startup founders at Lahore’s National Incubation Centre

Highly respected across the industry for his insight and leadership, Husain brings with him an extensive entrepreneurial background within the IT sector. His focus now is on ramping up the quality of the outputs that emerge from the NIC programme, intending to turn it into a world class incubator through improved curricula, better mentorship, and focus on diversity.

“One should have a nuanced perspective. There are good things that are happening and bad things that are happening,” says Hussain, highlighting greater access to education, an expanding middle class, and the country’s improved law and order situation.

His thoughts on the future direction of industrial growth include a strong focus on Artificial Intelligence-based solutions, and a modular workforce, which is able to scale and adapt to changing demands of employment. In the next decade, he predicts the gig economy will play a greater role compared to permanent jobs, and freelancers are likely to benefit from the shift.

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Despite the positive prognosis, Hussain believes progress in the ecosystem would be faster if we could just improve the ease with which people do business in Pakistan.

His thoughts echo those of various entrepreneurs who have in their conversations with VCast Online complained about the tedious nature of simple processes, such as registering a business or opening a back account.

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Hussain’s current read: Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Hariri