Opportunities to increase foreign exchange through non-resident Pakistanis
According to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, approximately 7.6 million Pakistanis live abroad, with the vast majority, over 4 million, residing in the Middle East. The second largest community at around 1.5 Million, live in the United Kingdom and in some other developed countries.
These Pakistanis are one of the main sources of foreign exchange to the country and the share in GDP is almost 8 percent. Pakistan is expected to receive remittances worth a record $22 billion in the Financial Year 2018-19 as the government has offered an incentive package to overseas workers to attract more forex through official banking channels. This data is only from documented transactions, however still some other non-banking ways of money transfers are also in use.
Statistics showed that Saudi Arabia remains the single largest source of remittances to Pakistan. Pakistanis living in the Gulf Arab kingdoms sent home $399.56 million last month. Unfortunately, the majority of Pakistani workers are empty handed when they move to the Gulf. This is why these workers initially accept low wage contracts.
Pakistan exports two types of labour forces to other countries; skilled and non-skilled. Non-skilled labour accounts for the majority, which tends to accept low paying jobs. Later however, low-skill employees are able to train and enhance their technical skills but due to initial job agreements they cannot avail good offers.
The government should offer these skill development short courses at the college level, as it is observed that eighty percent of college students do not complete their education and enter the labour market
Secondly, they cannot get reasonable positions at middle management levels, which limits how much they can earn and results in a low share in GDP at the national level.
On other hand, due to lack of good job opportunities in Pakistan, most intelligent and educated professionals are moving to other developed countries and are being settled there. In this move, these highly qualified professionals sometime also cannot get good and relevant job in developed countries. Hardly a few of them get good relevant jobs or can adjust themselves in good multinational companies.
This brain drain is natural, as every citizen has the basic right to avail good opportunities for a better life. The government can reduce the ratio of brain drain by offering them good offers and job security. However it is not possible to accommodate all fresh graduates and professionals in the domestic job market as available resources are very limited.
If we look at this brain drain from positive angle, at the end, these professionals are also contributing to Pakistan by sending forex to country. If the government can arrange to provide these graduates some guidance this can help the frustrated youth secure reasonable and respectable positions in other countries.
The government should also focus on non-skilled labour which leaves Pakistan. If the government can provide international standard skill development courses and technical training during college level education, this can help the majority to get good job offers. This will also enable them to get most relevant job and they can easily adjust at the middle management level. They could also compete with the skilled labour of other developing countries.
The government should offer these skill development short courses at the college level, as it is observed that eighty percent of college students do not complete their education and enter the labour market, after which they move to other countries without any skill or experience. So, at the intermediate or graduation level degree programs, if the government introduces one elective technical subject this can enable young students to learn and develop their skills at the initial level. Modern tools of learning can be adopted for international technical courses to meet the international standard of the job market. In the near future, some European countries will require a skilled labour force for their mega factories, as currently these countries are facing a shortage of local working class due to decline in population growth.
The government can also attract forex from these Pakistanis by offering them more incentives. Housing schemes, saving schemes, separate accounts in commercial banks and other investment opportunities can also encourage these Pakistanis to send more money back to the country.
The public and private sector should focus on increasing opportunities available to technical and soft skill improvement programs. This will enable our youth to get better jobs in the international market and an increase the amount of foreign exchange Pakistan receives.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute [SDPI] offers international standard capacity building workshops to the youth and professionals to improve their soft skills. The SDPI also provides research-based learning opportunities at different levels to senior students, fresh graduates, the youth and working professionals. Later, these trainees utilise their skills in their higher education or in strengthening their profile to secure good jobs abroad. On the basis of these contributions, every year SDPI successfully secures top positions in different categories in the ranking of global think tanks’ done by the University of Pennsylvania.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.