WHITHER THE PLAN FOR HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT?

SHAMSUL GHANI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Dec 20 - 26, 20
10

On the world map, Pakistan is the 10th largest country in terms of the size of labor force. As per Pakistan Economic Survey, Pakistan is a "young" nation with approximately 104 million Pakistanis below the age of 30 years. Total working age population is 121.01 million.

According to the latest Labor Force Survey, 2008-09, the size of the employed labor force is estimated at 50.79 million, with a labor unemployment rate of 5.5 percent. The human capital, nevertheless, suffers on two accounts: the labor force is mostly devoid of skill in the absence of integrated national vocational training programs, and the non-labor segment remains directionless in the absence of proper career planning. Human resource can be improved through a network of vocational training institutes on one hand and through raising of educational standards on the other.

With the feudal system gaining in strength with the passage of each decade and with its known aversion for mass education, we can hardly expect any betterment on the education front. Still more alarming is the recent years' development that has forged a new single-agenda relationship between the feudal lords and the terrorists. Both of them hate education for the captive populace of this country. One puts to demo this hate by blowing up girls schools, and the other group does it by keeping educational budget allocation below two per cent of GDP on one hand and ensuring non-utilisation of foreign grants for educational purposes on the other.

In this bleak scenario, the falling standard of education, particularly male education, induces in one a sense of despondency. Nevertheless, despite insurmountable odds, the visible improvement on female education front and intermittent show of brilliance by Pakistani students-both male and female-is something to sing about. But, the achievements of Pakistani students on international front are more the outcome of individual efforts rather than an overall systemic excellence. This is an achievement on quality side, but we need a vast improvement on quantity side if we want to make our human capital competitive in international markets. The ongoing recessionary economic trends have made overseas job markets highly competitive where Pakistani workers are given tough time by Indians, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Filipinos.

PUBLIC & PRIVATE SECTOR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

 

PRIMARY LEVEL (MALE & FEMALE)

HIGH SCHOOLS

SECONDARY VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS

ARTS AND SCIENCE COLLEGES

PROFESSIONAL COLLEGES

UNIVER-SITIES

YEAR

 

MALE

FEMALE

M

F

M

F

M

F

TOTAL

F

2000-01

147,700

10200

4600

394

236

1019

691

195

171

59

N

2001-02

149,100

10500

4600

368

239

1053

731

199

177

74

Na

2002-03

150,800

10800

4800

355

230

1087

768

200

186

96

Na

2003-04

155,000

11000

5100

396

228

1167

822

220

206

106

Na

2004-05

157,200

11300

5300

419

328

920

684

346

331

108

Na

2005-06

157,500

14800

8100

1484

1475

1512

1484

471

664

111

Na

2006-07

158,400

14600

9000

1599

1491

1675

1420

535

631

120

Na

2007-08

157,400

15,000

9000

1618

1507

1571

1642

502

700

124

Na

2008-09-P

156,700

15,100

9200

1636

1523

1620

1671

517

721

129

Na

2009-10-E

156,400

15,100

9,700

1653

1540

1658

1741

533

742

132

Na

Around 15 per cent of the total population is enrolled at the pre-primary and primary levels, perhaps mostly in mosques and madressahs. This number finally tapers down to a modest two million or so that is collectively enrolled at higher secondary, intermediate, degree college and university levels. The dropout rate at middle and high school level clearly suggests that almost 80 per cent of those getting primary or pre-primary education give up the pursuit of studies. These 80 per cent dropouts are lost track of from an economic point of view. Unfortunately, a good number of these dropouts become the raw material for terrorist organisations. The remaining lot either starts looking for odd, unskilled jobs, or is picked up by the criminal mafias. While setting up and running of secondary vocational institutes is also a welcome step, the need for such institutes is more vital at points where majority of younger generation says good-bye to education either for economic reasons or any social compulsions. A stipend-based running of vocational training institutes at primary and middle intersections can be a good national investment.

According to the Pakistan Economic Survey, 2009-10, National Vocational and Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC) has been established with a view to overcoming lack of standardisation, filling of skill gaps and ensuring availability of proper curricula. The problems faced at the human capital development front are poor quality of instructional staff, inadequate accreditation, poor infrastructure, and lack of private sector interest and investment in vocational training programs. The commission has been assigned the task of enhancing technical education and vocational training capacity of the economy.

Presently 1522 technical institutes with 314,188 enrollments are operating in the country and providing technical skills to the labor force. This is a right step in the right direction and needs to be emulated by the private sector. NAVTEC plans to produce one million skilled labor every year.

To effectively meet the threats of globalisation and multi-faceted competition, we need a broad based improvement in our human capital. This will require new investment of both domestic and foreign origins for sustained generation of skilled and educated work force. Our human resource is both our weakness and strength. We have abundant young and intelligent manpower which unfortunately is deprived of formal education and vocational training. And, given the culture we are living in, raising the education standard is a big ask. The two main obstacles on the road to education are low resource allocation and gender bias. We cannot claim to be educated unless the fifty percent female population is given equal rights to education and employment.

From the standard of today's world, only those proficient in computer literacy besides necessary formal education can claim to be the literate in true sense. The only way out is to raise our real literacy rate on a war footing. The spending on social sector, particularly education shall have to be increased substantially to produce quality human capital.

Lack of equal opportunities on employment front is also a drag on human capital. Despite improvement in female education, our job markets cannot boast of a matching female representation. Women sitting back at home after acquiring college/ higher education interrupt the process of economic value addition. Job conditions must improve to attract the women folk to factories, offices, and business houses. This will show the real potential of our human capital.