The Hunar Foundation (THF), one of the largest non-profit organizations offering technical and vocational training across Pakistan, was founded by a concerned and dedicated group of individuals, several of whom have also been involved in other successful NGOs like The Citizen’s Foundation, Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture, Kidney Centre, Karachi Relief Trust, Chal Foundation, Indus Hospital, etc.
Pakistan ranks number 147 out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index, it is not only below the average for developing countries but it is also below the average for South Asia. With a very young population, approximately 70% of the population under 35 years of age, and an expected number of years of schooling at only 7.8 years, the country faces a major crisis.
Conversely, having this young population also opens the horizon towards a great opportunity for development, provided the youth has relevant Technical Skills in order to find work and contribute to national growth. With increasing sophistication even in the blue collar workforce in the recent past, Pakistan is in a dire need of skill development centers aiming at training and grooming. This is where Hunar steps in.
THF initiated a movement to skill the motivated literate and semi-literate to provide training ‘with a difference’. “Nothing has a greater social and economic impact, both at an individual, and national level, then giving technical/vocational training.” says Aslam Khaliq, Chairman THF. The vision of the organization is ‘A Skilled Pakistan’ with the goal of creating a new cadre of skilled Pakistanis, possessing not only technical know-how, but work ethics and improved moral and social value too. The aim is to act as a catalyst for alleviating unemployment as well as stunted economic growth.
The key objective of THF is to provide school leavers and other young adults with quality vocational training that meets the expectations of the market, leading to employment or small business creation – and eventually economic freedom. The trades offered are chosen after conducting a market need analysis to understand which trades have a high demand in the market. They include mechanical, electrical, plumbing, refrigeration & air conditioning for boys and beauty therapy, hairdressing, industrial stitching for girls, among others. We also teach our students English, IT and Life skills to further enrich their learning experience. In addition to offering courses that are accredited by the Sindh / Punjab Trade & Testing Board, many of our courses / curriculum are approved by City and Guilds (C&G) UK, along with their certifications. We also have an effective job placement network to ensure our trainees are given proper guidance in the process of seeking and securing a job. We realize the importance of keeping these students engaged and therefore regularly conduct campus activities like job fairs and invite motivational speakers. Most importantly, we are continuously involved in the outreach to the community to raise awareness about the importance of vocational training so that parents see value in technical training and are proud when their sons and daughters learn a technical skill.
To date, more than 4,000 young adults have graduated from Hunar Institutes since operations started in 2010. Out of these, at least 80% are economically engaged in over 60 companies and are injecting approximately Rs. 350 Million (a conservative figure) in the economy per year. Our research shows that each employed person economically supports an average of 7-8 family members; as a result, more than 30,000 lives have been positively impacted whose education and health are now catered for. With 6 institutes already established and another set to be finished in January 2018 complete with its first Teacher Training Institute, THF plans to increase the number of purpose built ‘institutes of excellence’ exponentially. Therefore, in principle, through its micro level efforts, THF seeks to address a macro level issue of Pakistan which is of great magnitude, and constantly growing at an alarming rate.
Now, going forward, the challenge is too daunting, the gap too large, and the need too urgent for us to do it alone. The organization actively seeks out public and private partners to scale its outreach across the country. Currently, THF has many partners who not only sponsor students to attend the institute, but also help establish institutes, set up workshops, provide consumables for each workshop and job placement. These include Crescent Steel, PakArab Fertilizers, Shell, Sui Southern Gas Company, Pakistan Petroleum, Khushhali Bank and more. Additionally, THF is working on collaborations with other organizations (i.e., NGOs, NPOs, development organizations, local government, etc.) like USAID, British Asian Trust, Network of Organizations Working with People with Disabilities Pakistan (NOWPDP) and others, to initiate a movement towards technical training of communities and individuals who require rehabilitation into society.