Time to meet international standards in skill training
Educated, skilled and professional labour is always a key factor in the economic growth of a country. This has been proved by the developed economies in Europe, America, Canada, and Far East Asia. These countries have achieved their economic goals with proper planning and through the provision of equal opportunities to their citizens which allow them to learn and improve their technical and professional skills. They mainly focused the technical education needs according to their projects’ requirements before initiating mega projects. Such planning patterns helped them achieve their economic goals.
Unfortunately, Pakistan lags behind in the development of human capital. This is why it suffers from a lack of skilled and professional labour. Owing to this lack of proper guidance and planning to convert unskilled labour into skilled, we are unable to meet the demand of skilled labour in our recent and ongoing mega projects like the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).This situation has paved the way for importing skilled labour from China at the cost of our frustrated and unemployed youth. National manufacturers and businesses have also been facing problems as a result of a lack of skilled labour, which is affecting their businesses and growth. However a few multinational companies have initiated on-the-job training for newly-recruited labour to cope with this problem.
Although public and private institutions offer some technical and vocational courses, including Bachelor of Technology, Diploma in Associate Engineering, One-year diplomas, and some vocational training, these are not sufficient and can hardly play a role in meeting international standards. Owing to a lack of skilled human resources, we are unable to secure job opportunities in the international market while our neighbouring countries always keep an eye on mega projects in developed countries and they habitually start training their labour force before the market needs them. Mega projects linked with CPEC may provide technical job opportunities in energy, mass transit projects, special economic zones and at the sea port.
Although public and private institutions offer some technical and vocational courses, including bachelors of technology, diplomas in associate engineering, one-year diplomas, and some vocational training, these are not sufficient, and can hardly play a role in meeting international standards
Chinese investors are looking for new business opportunities in Pakistan. In connection with mega projects and business potential, some 71,000 Chinese nationals visited the country in 2016 and visa extension applications of 27,596 Chinese have been documented. This number is a 41 percent increase over 2015 which suggest that more are staying in the country for longer to initiate business activities. This has the potential create some new job opportunities for local labour. Although, the Government of Pakistanis providing training on some basic technical programmes through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA), a large number of graduates still do not get suitable jobs as these programs are providing substandard training courses while ignoring market demands. We need to upgrade technical courses to enable our youth to compete in the international labour market.
Apart from government efforts, the country’s literacy rate has declined from 60 percent to 58 percent, as was revealed by the Economic Survey of Pakistan (2016-2017). The survey further noted that the overall Net Enrolment Rate (NER) at a primary level was recorded at 54 percent between 2015 and 2016 as compared to 57 percent between 2013 and 2014 which shows a decline of three percent. So if we talk about technical and vocational training, a decrease of 1.5 percent in enrolment was recorded as it decreased to 315,168 in 2015 against 319,937 in 2014. However, it is estimated to increase by 0.7 percent, which is from 315,168 to 317,399 during 2016 according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan. We also need to improve our basic literacy and standard of education to meet the labour demand at the international level.
The 110 percent rise until July 2017 in the registration of national and international business companies with the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP)is a very good sign that shows the interest and potential of the economy. But, still a lot of local and even some Afghan nationals are running their shops, restaurants, and factories without any proper documentation which is a major cause of low tax revenue as well. Hence we need to strengthen and improve SECP and relevant companies’ registration authorities. By doing this, the government can increase tax and net revenues. Secondly, now we are among the leading developing countries attracting foreign investors.
So, keeping an eye on this development, the government should introduce company’s local partnership mechanisms with agreed nominal monthly or annual share which should be paid to local partners on pre-agreed terms and conditions. The ratio of this share can be in different categories in different areas and this share should be high for port cities so that the local community of Gwadar can get more shares.
This is successfully implemented by Malaysia and some countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council. For all the foreign investors, there should be one agreed share to be paid to their local partners, and without doing this the foreign investors should not be allowed to register or start any business. By implementing this idea, especially in Balochistan and Gwadar, we will encourage local investors to be part of this growth and can get their share.
This article was originally published at:
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.