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Adapting to global freelancing trends

Adapting to global freelancing trends

Recently, the news regarding discussion over shortening the four-year undergraduate degree caught my attention. As per news reports, such a need was felt due to high drop-out rates and no employment guarantee after completing the course. It has also come to light that the four-year course often takes five years to complete, and students struggle to financially support their studies. In this context, rather than returning to the three-year bachelor's degree, the university should develop concrete plans to ensure that the four-year degree adheres to the academic calendar and is completed within four years. 

Furthermore, the university should introduce new curricula that are industry-friendly, bridging the gap between the classroom and the real business world. These curricula should link academic courses to business profiles with the potential to thrive anywhere in the world.

In this short piece, my primary focus lies on how the curriculum can be revised to mitigate the significant drop-out rates. While my ideas may be more pertinent to the Information Technology and Management fields, they can offer valuable insights to the ongoing discussions. The curriculum should be designed with the goal of empowering students to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world situations or the business world. For instance, in the context of Business Communication, a subject tailored for management students, we can integrate courses like e-commerce, report writing and interpersonal communication, among others. When studying e-commerce, students could have the opportunity to visit actual e-commerce businesses to gain practical insights into their operations. Additionally, inviting founders or co-founders to share their entrepreneurial journeys in the classroom could serve as a source of inspiration for students contemplating the initiation of their own e-commerce ventures.

Prospects of Freelancing/Outsourcing

We live in a globally interconnected world. Despite living in a land-locked country, we can contribute significantly in the knowledge industry. Nepali university graduates can work on projects where distance and weight are not taken into consideration. They can become the workforce of European or the US companies if they champion certain skill sets. Taxation on the income earned through foreign exchange is quite lower compared to income earned through salary or investment in Nepal. As per the report, information technology services brought Rs 67 billion rupees to Nepal, with joint efforts of 106 information technology companies and some 15,000 freelancers.

By championing certain skill sets I mean acquiring skills and extending knowledge areas that are being sold faster than others. Several online workforce platforms, such as Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and PeoplePerHour, have gained global recognition. Their statistics show top jobs or skills that sell more than others. Based on their real-time data, interactions and jobs, they also rank certain skills and sub-skills. They also rank those skills based on their nature like technology, marketing, customer service and admin, accounting and consulting, design and creative etc. Among the skills Upwork ranked for 2023, full stack development, front-end development, back-end development and mobile-app development are skills that sell the most under tech skills. Similarly, search engine optimization, social media marketing, search engine marketing, email marketing are some most salable skill sets under marketing. Likewise, under customer support and admin, email, phone and chat support, virtual assistance, data entry, digital project management, research and transcription are the most in-demand skills. There are accounting and creative skills which are also in demand encompassing skills from recruiting and talent sourcing to graphic design and business analysis to video editing.

Developing Skills from Colleges to Beyond

My concern is that the university students can link their academics to a number of salable skills including the mentioned ones. They can create clubs in their respective college where they can discuss and share their knowledge related to the skill set. There can be a front-end development club, digital marketing club, virtual assistance and data entry club, translation and subtitle club and many other clubs that can work together for common good. For the successful operation of such clubs, the college management can also facilitate and provide expert counseling and coaching. The students that do not have clubs in their colleges can hone their skills independently taking classes in training centers.

The benefits of such platforms are tremendous. Technology has also made society homogenous. Nationality and national borders have blurred. A Kenyan teacher assists to write research papers to a British university graduate student and a Nepali software engineer works with a Dutch programmer to create a global web application owned by an American. You need to showcase your portfolio in a detailed and precise manner and start applying to those related to your skills. Most of the jobs in those platforms are looking for skills that our university students may possess. Rest of the details like race, nationality, age, sex do not matter. Hence, young graduates need to pick up a skill or two based on their interest and existing knowledge. They then need to hone their skills, and need to apply the skills to job providers in the global online marketplace.

According to the 2023 financial report from Payoneer, an American financial services company, there has been a significant increase in demand for skills such as programming, marketing, project management, and web design over the past year. The report also highlights that 46% of freelancers experienced an increase in demand for their work, indicating a growing reliance on freelancers by businesses. Nepali university graduates should join this global freelancing trend to financially support their studies. Some may even progress to the next level by forming companies and teams, potentially achieving millionaire status within a few years.