INTERVIEW: HAJI KARIM BAKHSH SIDDIQUI
Director Manpower & Training, Sindh
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
Oct 08 - 21, 2007
Developing an effective and result-oriented Technical Education and Vocational Training system has, in recent days, become a top priority of the government of Pakistan. Many structural and operational problems have led the nation to poor education quality, inefficiency, and weak linkage with the labor market. The need is to uncover, immediately, technical education, vocational training, and livelihood training for youths. It is necessary to educate the youth of up-to-date-skills in order to make them more productive agent of the economy. Job vacancies are often unfilled due to lack of trained personnel. In an interview with PAGE, Director Manpower and Training, Haji Karim Bakhsh Siddiqui detailed us about the present situation of vocational training and skill development programs generally in Pakistan and particularly in Sindh. He quoted few best examples of how TEVT system has been applied effectively elsewhere.
Graduated in MBA-Human Resource Management from Dublin University, Ireland in 1994, he has been the consultant for ILO. He qualified Sindh Public Service Commission exam in 1978 and remained the Principal of Training Centre, Kotri in the same year. He served Technical Training Centre, North Nazimabad as principal from 1982-1990, which was the longest serving period so far in his career. Up brought in an educational family and being a spouse of EDO Higher Education, Sindh, Mr. Siddiqui claimed to be by-heart a farmer and congenitally a Sofi. In 1998 he was transferred to Workers' Children Education Centre to activate functionalities and make it active. They established four Workers' Model Schools and duly utilized exchequers' funds, allocated for employees' children education.
While talking about emerging scenes, he informed, Labor Ministry has introduced a new concept of vocational training in jails across the province. This aims at rehabilitation of prisoners through vocational training. The old system in which criminals-sentenced to rigorous imprisonment-are trained to earn bread and butters in their lives after jail have become redundant and obsolete. That provides no worthy training to them, subsequently, their in-jail trainings go into waste. For example, the weaving machineries have been outdated and become antic pieces. Therefore, we presented a scheme in the Annual Development Program 2007-08 Sindh to concerned authorities proposing provision of modern technologies and contemporary trainings in jails with a cost of Rs.10 million.. The scheme was approved and hopefully, in the mid of this financial year, the formal workings would kick start. According to the aptitude and interests of prisoners, short courses of three to six months would be offered. Psychotherapies would also be provided to them. This proposed scheme is being supported by ILO; the PC-1 has already been prepared. This will initially be embarked on central jails of Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur on experimental bases. We've planned to start the similar kind of vocational training programs in 20 other jails of Sindh in future. If successful, 3,700 prisoners in Phase-1 will be the direct beneficiaries. Hinting at the sources of inspiration, he said, anciently Kot Diji jail was used for such vocational trainings to prisoners while in Ireland the concept had made it success. The purpose is to eliminate social evils from the society and reform criminals productive for society and economy altogether.
According to the statistics of Population Association of Pakistan, civilian labor force, employed and unemployed in Pakistan, are 36.32 million and 3.08 million respectively as estimated on till year 2000. In Sindh province, the figures are 7.44 and 0.24 million. Since our economy is mainly based on agriculture and its allied activities, over 48.42 percent of employed persons belong to agriculture, forestry, hunting, and fishing industries; 0.07 to mining and quarrying; 11.48 to manufacturing; 0.7 to utilities; 5.78 to construction; 13.5 to wholesale and retail, hotels; 5.03 to transport; 0.82 to financing and insurance; and 14.2 to community and social services. The other major occupational groups are: legislators, managers (11 percent); professionals (2.21 percent); technicians (4.17); clerks (1.56); salesman & service workers (4.58); skilled agriculture and fishery workers (40.03); craft related trade workers (15.05); plant and machine operators (3.28); and elementary occupations (unskilled) (18.13).
There are 34 training centers all over Sindh. The training centers are classified as Technical Training Center, Vocational Training Centre, Youth Vocational Training Centre, and Apprenticeship Training Centre. There are, presently, 17 Employment Exchanges in the province. There is a misconception that Employment Exchanges find jobs for people, on the contrary, he said, it engages in conducting two different surveys besides other activities. Annual Establishment Enquiry Survey collects data from various industries to know the prospective requirements of jobs. The purpose of gathering this information is to have updates on present and future industrial needs of labor force. Professional Vocational Training Institutes Survey tries to explore emerging trades and vocations in primary and secondary sectors of the economy. This year 27 new vocations have been discovered in Telecommunications Sector only. Informing the mechanism of discovering vocations in trades, he said, every new field brings with it a loads of trade opportunities e.g. as soon as the usage of cellular phones increases demand of repairing and maintenance centers would automatically rise. Similarly, mechanical field has two hundreds vocations. He lamented that there are no mechanism of training of trainers. There are 10,000 to 12,000 training centers across Sindh operating voluntarily. They have no formal system of teaching. Every one has just put a sign board of training centers not even knowing the skills enhancement techniques. EE provides assistance to unemployed persons in seeking jobs and also assist the employers in finding suitable person for job; collects manpower statistical data through Annual Establishment Enquiry Survey; and facilitates capacity building of potential labor force through training centers in order to make youth employable in industries or self employed. There are Apprenticeship Training Office, dealing in provision of job training through apprenticeship, and Vocational Guidance Offices, providing guidance to youth for making realistic choice of the career.
Mr. Karim is of the view that wage and salary structure should be out of regulatory control. Employers and employees should negotiate and decide salary structures themselves. Government interruption and fixing of minimal pay scale confine industrialists to pre-defined scales, which may harm the interest of work force. He thinks that unnecessary supporting staff and facilities, associated with a job, put an extra burden on government's pockets. Sometimes clerical staff and peons increase financial deficit of the government, instead, pay scales should be raised and unnecessary staff be removed alternatively.
Realizing the role of skilled and technically educated manpower for development of overall national economy, the Government of Pakistan has established the National Vocational & Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC). The Commission is mandated to facilitate, regulate, and provide policy direction for technical education and vocational training to meet national and international demand for skilled manpower. The Commission will review, devise policy and evolve strategy/prepare training programs relating to human resource development with a focus on technical and education and training (TVET). NAVTEC's energies are also dedicated to develop national occupational skills standards, curricula and trade testing certification systems for all sectors in which technical education and vocational training is imparted.
Governor Sindh has promulgated an Ordinance to provide for the establishment of an Authority known as the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority to regulate technical education and vocational training in the Province.
The headquarters of the Authority shall be at Karachi and it may establish regional offices at such place as it may deem fit. The functions of the Authority shall be to formulate technical education and vocational training policies and plans in collaboration with the Commission (NAVETC) towards the objective of strengthening and bringing these programs in consonance with current industry requirements; to facilitate establishment of institutional linkage with the industry to ensure that the multiple technical education and skill development programs are aligned to current industry requirement both nationally and internationally; to evolve and implement technical education and vocational training programs including their curriculum, standards and testing criteria.
To provide policy direction and facilitate resources including financial, manpower resources for the technical education and vocational training programs; to evolve policy framework for the institutional structure, human resource management policies including recruitment, promotion, placement, staff development and staff benefit schemes; to undertake restructuring of the technical education and vocational training institutions including their merger, closure, overhaul, up gradation towards and objective of unfolding a cohesive, rational and effective institutional framework in the Province.
To monitor and evaluate technical education and vocational training programs in terms of their effectiveness and ability to cater to market needs and facilitation of skilled manpower in the Province; to facilitate public private collaborations for furtherance of technical education and vocational training; to make provisions for mandatory practical training for the students of poly technic, mono-technic, trainees of vocational training centers and colleges of technologies in the industry; and to do other acts necessary for carrying out the purpose of this Ordinance.
There are loads of works going on in Punjab in terms of vocational training and skill development. He wished that there must be a likened authority constituted in Sindh, which could bring revolutions in enhancing the skills of labor force.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Karim said, in UK GDP was changed due to the human resource development. If you have skilled technical and non-technical labors with you economy would definitely prosper. The lesson lies in understanding of what sort of labors a nation needs to build its economy.