Cognitive, socio-emotional and technical skills basic requirement for Pakistan’s youth development
Interview with Dr. Khusro Iqbal – an HR expert
PAGE: Kindly tell me something about yourself:
Dr. Khusro Iqbal: I have got PhD degree and relevant Senior Managerial experience in Soft Marketing, Human Resources, Capacity Building, Medical Sciences, MIS, Administration, Training, Legal Management and Public Relations. I have gained knowledge and skills essential to be successful in career position applied for. My studies and career achievements enable me to develop ‘Interpersonal Skills’ and ‘Confidence’ to deal with people at all levels in the public sphere.
I am successfully managing the human resource and related budgets of General Tyre which is the market leader and has about 3200 (plus) employees; 14 billion rupees turnover; known famous brand around the globe; having countrywide branches and technical collaboration with a German company called the Continental Tyre. I have solid knowledge in all management areas, including Labor relations; Performance Management, Training Management, Employee relations, Talent management, People Skills, Resolving Conflict, Employment Law, Pension and Government regulations.
PAGE: What are your views about the liaison between academia and industry in Pakistan?
Dr. Khusro Iqbal: The unemployment in any country is of critical concern. It can be attributable to multiple factors including economic growth, slow industrial growth, lack of investment opportunities etc. However, there is another important aspect which is often ignored and that is strong liaison between academia and industry. While academia is complaining for slow job market, industry is complaining about non availability of quality resources. It’s quite common to witness a sharp individual doing excellent job in interviews but fails miserably in practical scenarios.
This concern can be addressed with mutual co-operation of academia and industry by adopting the following important steps out of many others:
- Educational Exploration
- Free Enterprise and Commercial Practicality
- Industry Acquaintance
- Reconsideration & Configuration of Syllabus with Industry wants
- Industry experienced teaching staff both for technical and skilled disciplines
PAGE: How could Pakistan catch up with the latest trends of education sector of the developed countries to meet the requirement of the industry?
Dr. Khusro Iqbal: Pakistan remains one of the lowest performers in the South Asia region on human development indicators, especially in education and stunting. The Net Enrollment Rates in education have been increasing in Pakistan but still lag behind other South Asia countries. In Pakistan over the past couple of years, greater decision-making authority has been assigned to provincial governments through the Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment, which has devolved a number of key functions to the provinces. In total, 17 federal ministries have been devolved, including education to the provinces which in general opinion, so far, has not proven significant or productive.
Accordingly, to meet challenge to catch up with the latest trends of education sector of the developed countries it will require concerted efforts of Pakistani federal and provincial governments to enhance sub-national capacity and institutional development, which varies across provinces. Also another significant concern relates to the lowest education budget of Pakistan in comparison to the other developing countries of the world.
The Pakistani industry generally feels that following steps may be significant from where Pakistan should begin to reform its educational system:
- Comprehensive gap analysis for smart education needs identification.
- Setting of universal minimum educational standards.
- Proper identification, decentralization and mobilization of all available resources.
- Getting the private sector to offer more scholarships.
- Making of provisions for children with special needs, girls and children out of school due to financial reasons.
- Incentivize to learn during bread & butter earning.
- Adapting teaching techniques for volatile situations.
- Promotion of standard education and learning in local languages.
- Promotion of technical research and analysis in local languages instead of English.
PAGE: Could you tell us about the skill set required compared to the existing education standards?
Dr. Khusro Iqbal: Out of many some technical skills in demand to be more focused in our existing education system such as accounting, IT languages coding, computer skills, data analytics, data mining, design, engineering, marketing, photography, plumbing, programming, project management, SEO, training, quality control etc.
PAGE: Your expectations from the incumbent government for the promotion of the skill development of the youngsters:
Dr. Khusro Iqbal: Pakistan’s transition to a knowledge-based economy requires a new generation of educated and skilled people. Its competitive edge will be determined by its people’s ability to create, share, and use knowledge effectively. A knowledge economy requires Pakistan to develop skilled workers, knowledge workers and knowledge technologists who to be flexible and analytical, and be the driving force for innovation and growth.
To achieve this target, the new government needs to work on a flexible education system; basic education to provide the foundation for learning; secondary and tertiary education to develop core capabilities, core technical skills and further means of achieving lifelong learning.
I and many of my other industry peers feel like that the new PTI government should focus more to promote following three skill groups for the development of the youngsters in Pakistan like:-
- Cognitive skills
- Socio-emotional skills
- Technical skills
The Pakistani education system must be attuned to the new global environment by promoting creativity and improving the quality of education and training at all levels as in a globalized economy, a large pool of skilled workers is indispensable for attracting industrial investment including foreign direct investment. Developing skilled workers will enhance the efficiency and flexibility of the labor market; reduce skills bottlenecks, enable absorption of skilled workers more easily into the economy, and improve their job mobility.
Again, it is crucial for government to invest in quality secondary and tertiary education and in vocational education and training (VET) if it feels that Pakistan’s economy is to develop and remain competitive in world markets.