Karachi : Z2C Limited, a venture accelerator that invests in and launches MarTech start-ups, has taken yet another step towards increasing the quality and quantity of advertising industry talent in Pakistan. Through its Publicis Groupe Delivery (PGD) affiliated export-first digital agency Activ8, the accelerator has partnered with digital agency East River and the media science department of Ziauddin University to launch fast-track courses.
Pakistan’s services industry generates under $2 billion annually in aggregate export revenue, while the academic side of the equation produces roughly 10,000 graduates annually. Across the border, India’s services industry generates over $100 billion annually in aggregate exports, and the academic space produces over 500,000 graduates annually. LinkedIn data clearly reflects that the quality of Indian engineers and marketers is so high that Fortune 500 technology companies set up back offices in the second-most populous country in the world.
According to keynotes delivered by executives of Careem and Systems Limited, the low-quality of Pakistani graduates stems from a disconnect between what the market wants and how academics choose to teach students. This is particularly reflective in a grading system around memorization instead of on the demonstration of applicable skills and critical thinking.
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To solve the disconnect between what the market wants and what universities should teach, partnerships between leading companies and institutions is the need of the hour. One such partnership has taken place this weekend at the Ziauddin University.
Drawing from the industry-leading management trainee program at Brainchild, the 12-week innovative program aims to create a pool of talented digital resources at the management or project trainee level.
“We are pleased to partner with East River Digital, Z2C Limited, and Activ8 to provide our students with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and develop critical skills in digital media; we believe that this program will equip the next generation of digital leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their careers,” said Dr. Nida Hussain, Pro-chancellor of Ziauddin University.
The first batch of the ZEAL Future Enablement Program at Ziauddin University will occur four times in 2023 and will enroll up to 50 participants in each cohort to develop critical skills in digital media planning, social media, Google Ads, business communication, branding, and search engine optimization.
“Launching a training academy has been a passion project of mine because it can change the destiny of our country,” said Faizan S. Syed, the CEO of East River. “By training and enabling our talent to serve global markets, we create a new set of digital marketing resources that can serve the world from Pakistan and bring much-needed foreign investment to this country.”
The ZEAL program will be delivered by expert trainers from East River, Z2C Limited, and Activ8, with additional support from Ziauddin University. Classes will be conducted every Saturday till 19th May 2023 at both Ziauddin University Clifton and North sites.
“As technology pushes deeper into the business, the business pushes deeper into technology,” said Raihan Merchant, CEO of Z2C Limited, at the launch ceremony of the ZEAL Future Enablement Program. “All businesses and executives need to be upskilled in digital marketing and creative strategy in order to improve the effectiveness of customer lifetime value initiatives. To take Pakistan to the next level, we need to increase the quality and quantity of talent that will shift the country to a services industry model.”
As the advertising expenditure within Pakistan declines steadily year-on-year, advertising agencies have begun to pivot towards an expert model for their services. This has included training existing talent to work on global brands in the MENA and APAC region, through large consultancies and advertising agencies. In Pakistan, Activ8 is one such example, serving advertisers in the MENA region through it’s relationship with the Publicis Groupe. The exposure to regional megabrands and their campaigns represents tremendous learning opportunities and growth for work placement abroad.
“Executives worldwide need training on platforms and tools that make their roles easier,” said Saadi Gouse, the director of digital transformation at Publicis Groupe in Pakistan. “The data-literate executive will replace the executive that refuses to upskill & adapt. The most significant disruption data and AI create is eliminating the walls between technology and business. They are becoming indistinguishable. Companies must adapt by making technical and non-technical roles indistinguishable.”