4 April 2021
ICT Minister Meets FWD Graduates

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has met with a group of graduates of Future Work is Digital (FWD) initiative, which was launched by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to qualify young people for freelance and remote work.  The meeting addressed the impact of the initiative on the graduates’ career path and ability to find freelance jobs on the freelancing platforms, partners of the initiative.

A number of young people joined the meeting at MCIT headquarters in Smart Village, with another group of graduates joining through videoconference, from the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) in Smart Village, and Creativa Innovation Hubs in Mansoura, Menoufia, Sohag, Minya and Qena. Around 1,000 more graduates also joined the meeting online.

The meeting reviewed the indicators of FWD, launched by MCIT through the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) for providing hands-on training in the most in-demand technology skills in the global market, and the professional skills of digital work, in partnership with Udacity and major global platforms, such as Freelancer.com and Upwork.

The initiative targets training 100,000 young people in the most in-demand freelance skills. So far, 31,000 young people from 27 governorates and more than 50 national and private universities graduated from FWD, while nearly 9,000 joined major international freelancing platforms.

The meeting presented many success stories of FWD participants, students and graduates who were able to benefit from the initiative and acquire applied skills in technology and freelancing, which qualified them to compete for international online jobs and earn a monthly income of over USD 2,000.

During the meeting, the ICT Minister had an open discussion with the young people. He stressed that FWD comes within the capacity-building pillar, one of the pillars of an all-encompassing strategy implemented by MCIT to build Digital Egypt.

Talaat said that the initiative aims to create decent job opportunities beyond geographical boundaries, in light of the growing gig economy where the global interest to provide online jobs beyond borders grows, with many countries starting to rely on outsourcing to freelancers without having to host them, overburdening the facilities and services of their countries.

He said that MCIT is working to qualify young people to compete in this promising industry, highlighting that the initiative’s effectiveness is linked to the ability of young people to compete in the global freelancing market. More meetings are to be held with young people in Creativa Innovation Hubs headquarters in different governorates, for further discussions, he added.

For their part, the graduates commended the initiative and the privileges it offers, most notably not being limited to particular age groups, and the availability of receiving training through a digital platform. The initiative involves an in-depth curriculum that helps hone the participants’ skills in freelancing, and, unlike other training programs, provides mentorship through experts, throughout the entire training period.

Some graduates stated that the initiative changed their career path and helped them find tech jobs despite the fact that they graduated from irrelevant colleges. One freelancer suggested creating a digital platform that brings together FWD graduates and freelancers with experts in this field. The ICT Minister welcomed the proposal, announcing MCIT readiness to launch a competition through Creativa Innovation Hubs, where people compete to create a platform that serves as a digital club through which freelancers cooperate and exchange experiences.

In response to a query on increasing Internet speed, Talaat underlined that a plan is underway to boost the information infrastructure nationwide. In addition, a project will be carried out as part of the first phase of Haya Karima (Decent Life) initiative, connecting more than 1,300 villages with fiber optic cables at a cost of about EGP 5.6 billion.

On open data sources, Talaat stated that the Personal Data Protection Law was enacted last year, with work in progress to issue the executive regulations implementing it, which include creating a body to regulate and govern the circulation of data in Egypt, and developing mechanisms for saving and making data available to employees and researchers in Artificial Intelligence (AI), while ensuring the protection of citizens’ personal data.

The young people also suggested providing more hands-on training and in-depth specializations within the initiative. One entrepreneur submitted a project proposal, requesting support to implement it. In this context, the ICT Minister called on the young people to take advantage of the services provided by Creativa Innovation Hubs that support young people to turn their creative ideas into entrepreneurial projects. The Hubs also enable young people to exchange experiences, receive hands-on training and meet with investors.

Talaat said that FWD is in the process of including a fourth, more-advanced level of training, adding that MCIT carries out many initiatives that provide different specializations for young people.

The graduates also enquired about the possibility of participating in the digital transformation projects carried out by MCIT. The ICT Minister highlighted that Our Digital Opportunity initiative was launched to support the growth of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and freelancers through allocating 10% of Digital Egypt projects for them to implement.

The participants commented that the global success rate of participants and trainees in finding freelance jobs and projects in freelancing platforms is almost 5%, while the rate of transformation of FWD graduates is fivefold this number. Talaat expects that numbers to reach tenfold the global average.

For his part, the Vice President of Udacity for Government Hisham Elaraby said that FWD is the world’s top initiative in terms of the number of beneficiaries and partnerships with major freelancing platforms. The initiative witnessed hundreds of success stories of graduates who were able to find freelance jobs during the training and right after graduation, with generous monthly salaries amounting to thousands of dollars. Young people, through FWD, were able to work from home and overcome the challenges associated with the long distance from home to work, and the inability to work on full-time basis.

The meeting comes in MCIT keenness to open channels of direct dialogue with the participants and graduates of its programs and initiatives, with the aim to learn about their visions, how they benefit from the programs and their participation in the new initiatives and programs that MCIT offers to young people.

The meeting was attended by ITIDA CEO Amr Mahfouz, the Assistant Minister for Strategy and Implementation Sherine El-Guindy, the Advisor to the ICT Minister for Technology Innovation, Electronics Industry and Training Hossam Osman, the Africa Business Development and Partnerships Manager at Udacity Iman Raslan, and officials from MCIT and Udacity.

It is worth mentioning that FWD includes three levels of applied technological training in disciplines including digital marketing, web development software, data science, data analysis and professional training in digital freelance work.

Registration for the initiative is available through egfwd.com. New participants join the initiative every month to become freelancers, capable of taking the lead of their careers and earn more through working online in IT services in global markets.

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