Iqbal Yousuf is Managing Director Aptech Pakistan. He carries with him ten years of rich experience of Computer Education programme in the country. Since his joining the Aptech Pakistan he has proved his professional mettle and is successfully taking the institute towards prestigious niche with nurturing expansion projects across Pakistan. Earlier, Iqbal Yousuf had also been running a Pakistan-based multi-national IT consultancy NDC as COO
Tell us about Aptech Computer Education as an institute?
IQBAL YOUSUF: APTECH Computer Education is the IT education brand of APTECH Limited with a presence across five continents established in 1986. Through its wide network of centers across the globe more than 6 million students have been trained and passed out of APTECH over two decades. Its industry relevant courses, expert faculty, world-class infrastructure and unique training methodology help develop skilled IT professionals. APTECH has education programmes offerings to suit the needs of every kind of learner – from a person taking his first step into the world of computers, to a student wanting a career in IT, to a professional upgrading or enhancing his/her skill knowledge. As a pioneer and leader in the field of IT education, APTECH has amassed a rich experience of over 26 years in the field. The institute develops and deploys learning solutions for its clientele ranging from young school children to working IT professionals. APTECH Computer Education has more than 3000 centers across the world. In Pakistan Aptech has 16 centres as of now and many more to come.
What is Aptechs core programme?
Aptech Certified Computer Professional (ACCP) is our core program. ACCP is a three-year career course offered in alliance with Microsoft and is the only complete career program in IT vocational training in Pakistan. ACCP caters to needs of all type of students seeking vocational computer education in software engineering and has four exists. It offers an exit at certificate level after 6 months, then at diploma level after 1 year then Higher Diploma after 2 years and complete 3 years Advance Diploma.
What would you say about the standard of ACCP curriculum? How is it different from other computer institutes?
Aptechs strength is its Research and Development in cutting edge technologies and designing of the curriculum in line of the market trend and requirement. Aptechs curriculum and patent teaching methodology is standardized globally and enriched with global experience. And I believe there is no comparison of ACCP with the courses offered in other institutes. These institutes do not have any standard curriculum or quality control.
How do you ensure quality control?
At Aptech, we are very much conscious about quality control. In Pakistan we have FSO team who conducts monthly visits and check compliances and conducts audits. We take monthly feedback direct from students, which is evaluated at HO level and rating of the center is maintained. We conduct regular Parent-Teacher Meetings and Students Appraisals to ensure the quality and feedback.
How do you see the future of vocational education and its expansion in Pakistan?
I believe the future for us is “the vocational education in IT.” The information technology has become the backbone of world economy and survival of nations is in their ability. I also believe that “the nations who produce locally trained and skilled human resources in IT shall prevail in the world economy”. And Pakistan has started its journey in the right direction. Just to share with you that in this first half of the fiscal year IT services export has increased by 24% where Software export from Pakistan reached 8 Billion Rupees and IT Services reached 11 billion rupees. I have brought in another Aptech brand called “Aptech Hardware and Network Academy” which is offering first ever complete and integrated programme in hardware and networking domain.
What are the factors of this growth in IT jobs?
One: the growing demand in international market; Two: Pakistani industry and government has finally started enabling their systems. The best example in CNIC, new voter lists by NADRA, machine readable passports, branchless banking and telecom boom; Three: The organizations have realized that they need skilled HR not “only degree holders”. And I think this is pleasant change by which we will redirect our youth to become productive rather than jobless degree holders.
You are strong advocate of vocational education, what is your inspiration and how does that go with your business mission?
True! I am strong advocate of vocational education and my inspiration is Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who in his message to educational conference (November 27, 1947) said and I quote “There is no doubt that the future of our State will and must greatly depend upon the type of education and the way in which we bring up our children as the future servants of Pakistan. There is immediate and urgent need for training our people in the scientific and technical education in order to build up future economic life.
How would you compare vocational education with degree programmes, where HEC is investing?
True! That HEC is investing in Higher Education but its not only about Bachelors Degree but actually what I understand that HEC is on a visionary programme to promote Research and Development and eventually producing Masters and Ph.Ds. Poverty is because of unskilled jobless manpower. Need of the time is that we provide skills to our youth and enable them to contribute in GDP. What we need to see that, by enrolling thousands of students in degree programmes, are we producing skilled human resource!? I believe not. While the students who are passing out successfully from vocational institutes with diplomas in their hands are more skilled and ready for the job.
How do you see the employability of your passed out students in Pakistani market?
Very interesting! Since Aptechs programme is all about providing IT skills in software engineering, training of our students start right from the day-1. When our student passes out, he/she is highly employable as a software developer as he/she passes out with a built-in 3 years experience hence his acceptability in the market is much more than a basic computer degree holder.
What has been the progress of Aptech since you took over as MF and what are your future expansion plans?
When we took over as MF, there were only 3 centres in Pakistan and all in Karachi only. There were around 400 students enrolled in various programmes in all three centres. And today there are almost 3,000 enrolled students at Aptech across Pakistan. Aptech has witnessed tremendous growth in the business in past three years and our growth has been 67%. And by the Grace of Almighty Allah, today there are 16 centers in Pakistan out of which 9 in Karachi, 2 in Hyderabad, 1 in Sukkur, 3 in Lahore and 1 in Sialkot. And soon will be opening in Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Larkana. Generally we envision that there should be at least one center in every town of the country. So we are targeting to reach to a total of 100 centers in next 5 years.
What do you think are the success factors behind the progress of Aptech after you took over?
Immediately after I took over as MF, my initial focus was to strengthen the existing 3 centers and I was very clear in my mind that we need to have a support structure and I established Franchise Support Office (FSO). The team that I gathered shared my vision and roadmap to success. And I believe that the team of FSO deserves the credit of the achievement so far! Their “Can do” attitude and untiring efforts actually laid the foundation of success. Besides, our Business Partners (Directors of different franchise centers) supported us and have and extended their cooperation in every field, right from marketing to implantation of SOPs.
What if HEC recognizes ACCP as Hons. Bachelor Degree?
First of all I believe in vocational education and ACCP is complete vocational program and does not lead to degree as this is not academic program. Secondly; in Pakistan degree programme is minimum of 16 years education as opposed to UK, so there is no Hons. Degree option in Pakistan. And we do not expect from HEC to accept ACCP as a degree program as academic degree programs have its own attributes which a vocational program like ACCP may be missing. However! What do we expect from HEC is to accept credit transfer of ACCP for any student who wish to follow degree programme. And this is not something new as ACCP is very well accepted in most of the reputable universities of UK and many other universities world over. The student has to study one more year to get Hons degree. Same can be done here, may be student should study two more years and get the degree! But I believe the bureaucracy here makes everything too difficult to pursue.
As you talked about Aptech Hardware and Network Academy, how is that different from Aptech Computer Education?
Aptech Hardware and Network Academy is the sister concern of Aptech Computer Education. Aptech Limited the parent company strongly believes in specialization thats why it has separate brands for different department of Information Technology. Aptech Computer Education is the premium brand of Aptech Limited offering courses of Software Engineering while Aptech Hardware and Network Academy is coming with comprehensive career courses in System Administration and Networking including courses like A+ certification, Cisco Networking, MCITP certification, specialization in Red Hat, courses of Security+ and other related to that field. We believe that this would be a great opportunity for students to get comprehensive career program with the leading institute of the world.
What steps do you take for placement of your students in IT industry?
Aptech Computer Education is not only the leading Computer Education provider but also is the pioneer in offering Career Program is vocational education. And when it comes to career, Aptech has strong industrial liaison to promote and place its passed out students at right and valuable positions in the IT industry. Aptech has established a Placement Cell dedicated to fulfill not only the market requirement but to promote its valuable Alumni.
What is Aptech Ambassador Program?
Aptech, the largest computer education provider in Pakistan, has taken upon itself to uplift computer literacy level of our corporate and social community. In pursuance of this effort Aptech Pakistan has launched a unique initiative in the name of “Aptech Ambassador”. This program not only provides an opportunity to students to become part of Aptechs efforts to fulfill corporate social responsibilities but also is aimed to develop self-confidence and sense of achievement amongst students. The programme includes, special training of selected students on selected I.T. skill, presentation skills and personality grooming. After the training students are awarded with decent badges to distinguish themselves as Aptech Ambassadors and then they are required to train at least one person from the corporate sector around their social circle. After successful completion of training final certificates are awarded to students – The Aptech Ambassadors. Their job doesnt end here; they are required to continue training the people from government and corporate sector who wish to add value in their professional career.
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