INTERVIEW WITH KARIM BAKHSH SIDDIQUI, PROVINCIAL COORDINATOR, PROVINCIAL COORDINATION UNIT BENAZIR BHUTTO SHAHEED YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (BBSYDP)

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Jan 16 - 22, 20
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PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.

KARIM SIDDIQUI: I recall myself in the field of human resource development. The journey began in year 1978 with my appointment through Public Service Commission as Principal, Technical Training Centre, Kotri, Sindh. Allah Rabul Izzat blessed me with the responsibility to head the only human resource development institute in interior Sindh with 1500 learners in 19 trades/ courses of nine to eighteen months in two shifts of morning and evening. I flourish because of the blessings of Allah Rabul Izzat and the support of my team whom I have worked with. To me the key to thrive endlessly is to implement actions that help colleagues to learn to cooperate and grow together as no one alone can ladder up. The strategic planning in every walk of life and career provide you the better time line for success of the desired goals. In my current position in the provincial coordination unit, I involve my team in decision making process, assigned them a pivotal role and free hand to take appropriate decisions and ownership of the responsibilities assigned to them to help them excel in the field of human resource development. I feel myself as the manager and facilitator of the immense task, who is there to keep team motivated and zealous and has to keep the sail smooth till the end of the journey in order to achieve program's mission.

PAGE: WHAT IS BEING DONE FOR HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT (HRD) IN SINDH?

KARIM SIDDIQUI: HRD is the crux of the economy of any country so it is of Pakistan's. It is important to understand the dynamics of this industry so as to deal with everyday challenges facing Pakistan. The institutionalization of this industry would be fruitful for the economic empowerment of whole country and would aid in development of youth with employable skills. In general, the word poverty is defined as lack of inadequate food or income; it has never been defined in the broader and real scope, as lack of access to opportunities. The poverty is not a single issue. It has manifold occurrences. The poverty of opportunity is the cause, and poverty of income and food is the result. Hence, the strategies must focus on poverty of opportunity.

Therefore, it is need of the time to design a program to address the issue in discussion in a way that the poor unemployed youth could be integrated into the mainstream of economic activity through gainful employment and merely charity of food and income support is not enough. The economic growth is essential for continual reduction of poverty. This requires a multidimensional approach consisting of broad-based economic growth across income groups and enhanced easy access to education, skill development through training in the employable occupational areas, besides the health care, sanitation, clean drinking water and housing. The rural poverty requires more immediate attention for providing access to opportunities at their doorsteps and rural small/ cottage industry development so as rural poor must have a share in the productivity and growth of the economy. Pakistan enjoys 10th rank among 184 countries with a labor force of 48 million (associated with agriculture 42 per cent, industry 20 per cent, and services 38 per cent).

The country stands at 55th out of 107 with an officially accepted unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent, while the ratio of unemployment to the percentage of total labor force is 7.7 per cent (44th of 101). With HDI 0.527 (136th of 178), 35 per cent population falls below the poverty line (3.86 per cent of world's poor- 4th of 80), Pakistan is rated in the low income category of nations, with a GDP real growth rate of 5.3 per cent.

The economic conditions of the country are not satisfactory due to several reasons including unemployment. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Index HDI, which is an index used to rank countries by level of human development, usually implies whether a country is developed, developing, or underdeveloped.

The HDI combines normalized measures of life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment, and GDP per capita for countries worldwide. It uses the logarithm of income, to reflect the diminishing importance of income with increasing GDP. Thus, it is claimed as a standard mean of measuring human resource development. Pakistan is at 136 in the 178 countries list (2009-10).

In human resources development, skill based trainings play a vital role in the economic proficiency of the country. It raises the productivity and efficiency that is capable of leading the economy towards the path of sustainable economic development. Like many other developing countries, the output based of quality education particularly skill based trainings is not very encouraging.

Before initiation of BBSYDP, the unskilled youth through traditional streams, were being employed against unmatched or mismatched jobs [wherein the youth were either doing nothing or working in the state of no/ low wages]. It is mainly due to the reason as they had little chance to gain access to demand driven skill development/ training programs. It is proven fact that large number of school dropouts has meager access to skill development for acquiring skills or improving their employability. Hence, well-trained youth in the employable skills is the only solution to channelize the youth toward employment market (local, international) and to become the engines of economic growth, which may provide success in the poverty reduction and social development.

BBSYDP is working in across Sindh to promote this industry to its maximum. We are equipping youth with employable skills besides partnering with industries to validate these skills by employing youth trained by BBSYDP. Alhamdulillah, we have successfully accomplished many of our set targets one out of which is to provide all institutes uniform training curricula to double the value of the certification. Academia is not the only focus of the program, it also stresses more on work place learning to attain the objectives of the program. BBSYDP's team and its potential training partners are working above and beyond their duties to seize every opportunity to harmonize HRD practices throughout the region.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON CHILD DEVELOPMENT WITH REGARD TO FUTURE HUMAN RESOURCES.

KARIM SIDDIQUI: In comparison to past years, we have observed a rapidly growing demand of Early Childhood Education (ECE). Researchers have supported the fact that early years learning plays a vital role for sustainable development of a country. I admit that scientists approach to ensure ECE for all children will lead to individual and societal dividends of countless measure. The nation that foresees endearing results that means a learnt, hardworking, productive, and empathetic society, and this surely changes the system and provide the employment industry with studious and capable youth who will become future leaders not the followers. Poverty spurts in range of nearly half of the total population. Widespread poverty remained most never-ending dilemma. Sindh being the 2nd largest province of Pakistan contributes a larger share towards the country's economy. Labor force participation rate of the province is 32.29 (51.04:10.71, male to female). A ratio of around 55 per cent from the age group 18-35 years is participating in labor force1.

Among the reasons for increasing unemployment of the educated youth is our educational system due to which the attitude of our youth towards the choice of a career is unrealistic and unproductive. One of the leading results of unemployment is anxiety of the unemployed people who may become pessimistic about life, even causing the incidents of suicide scale up beside the crime (law and order) problems. The World Youth Report 2005, as on today and towards 2013, makes a strong argument to scale up the investment in youth development for future HR. The statistics given as follow are clear to understand the situation.

1. 200 million youth live on less than US$1 a day.

2. 130 million are illiterate.

3. 10 million live with HIV.

4. 88 million young people are unemployed.

5. Member states and United Nations Agencies increasingly recognize the importance of investing in youth; it is very difficult to measure the success of their interventions.

6. Programs and policies are insufficiently monitored and most data are not age disaggregated.

Despite progress in the basic education sector in recent years, less than one quarter of the youth cohort graduates from secondary education and a meager four per cent enters the higher education system. This translates into more than three quarters of the youth cohort exiting the education system with some foundational skills, but few or almost no marketable skills and severe difficulties finding employment.

With 21 per cent of Pakistan's 173.51 million in the 15-24 age range, this amounts to a significant education and training challenge.

Currently, less than one per cent of the population aged 10 years and above is trained in occupational skills. When it comes to women, the education and skill acquisition scenario is more dismal. Only 45 per cent of females 10 years and above have ever attended school and only 0.4 per cent ever received TVET.

In contrast, male literacy rate is 69 per cent and 1.32 per cent having ever received TVET.

The age specific unemployment rate has increased over the last year and is the highest among 15-19 years old (9.5 per cent), followed by 20-24 years old (7.3 per cent).

Developing the general, technical, and professional skills of youth, especially females, would position them better to obtain a job and a stable future. Further, it would enhance the supply of skilled labor. The province of Sindh has a population of over 85 million, of which more than 1/2 is less than 30 years old. The BBSYDP and the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA) are the government counterparts. BBSYDP trains around 50,000 youth of Sindh every year through its program.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON HR PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS, A CODE OF CONDUCT AND STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOR RELATING TO FAIRNESS AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN OUR COUNTRY?

KARIM SIDDIQUI: We are living on the digital globe where life seems too fast to think about our actions. Here I must say that we have overshadowed the moral values that lead to an ethical life and that is not only the case of Pakistan but is the dark side of almost the whole world.

It is true that there was a time when many were unfairly dealt but with the rising awareness of HR mechanism the pattern has been changed and many are dealt evenhanded. If not all but maximum try to get the right professional for the right place suppressing the social unrest to a certain extent as it will be beneficial for the society by keeping youth motivated and the industry by providing them with industrious youth for a prosperous and optimistic tomorrow.

PAGE: IT IS BELIEVED THAT CHALLENGE TO HR IN PAKISTAN IS THAT IT HAS VERY LIMITED WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT LEGISLATION. INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AND THE RELATED LAWS PRIMARILY FOCUS ON THE LABOR CLASS, LEAVING ASIDE WHITE-COLLAR WORKERS. YOUR VIEWS.

KARIM SIDDIQUI: The legislation for labor/work force management and its related laws and most importantly, industrial relations ordinance/act in Pakistan are well drafted having strong basis of welfare, equality and since creation of Pakistan, five labor polices have been announced. Before we discuss on the enactment of above laws, the related articles of the Constitution of Pakistan are as under:

Article 11 of the Constitution prohibits all forms of slavery, forced labor and child labor;

Article 17 provides for a fundamental right to exercise the freedom of association and the right to form unions;

Article 18 proscribes the right of its citizens to enter upon any lawful profession or occupation and to conduct any lawful trade or business;

Article 25 lays down the right to equality before the law and prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex alone;

Article 37(e) makes provision for securing just and humane conditions of work, ensuring that children and women are not employed in vocations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment.

Pakistan's labor laws trace their origination to legislation inherited from British colonial rule. The laws have evolved through a continuous process of assessment to meet the socioeconomic conditions, state of industrial development, population and labor force explosion, growth of trade unions, level of literacy, and government's commitment to development and social welfare. To meet the workforce management, regulatory and welfare objectives, the government has introduced a number of labor acts, laws and policies to mirror the shifts in governance from martial law to democratic governance.

Under the Factories Act, 1934 the worker is not permitted to work in any establishment in excess of nine hours a day and 48 hours a week. Similarly, no young person, under the age of 18, can be required or permitted to work in excess of seven hours a day and 42 hours a week.

Section 8 of the West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance, 1969 likewise, restricts weekly work hours at 48 hours. The Shops and Establishments Ordinance regulates persons employed in shops and commercial establishments, who are neither covered by the Factories Act nor by the Mines Act. Article 11(3) of the Constitution expressly prohibits the employment of children below the age of fourteen years in any factory, mine or other hazardous employment. In addition, the Constitution makes it a Principle of Policy of the State of Pakistan to protect the child, remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education within the minimum possible period and make provision for securing just and human conditions of work, ensuring that children and women are not employed in vocations unsuited to their age or sex. Article 38 of the constitution imparts the state's obligations aimed at achieving equality in the form of securing the well-being of the people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed, or race, by raising their standard of living. All citizens are bestowed, within the available resources of the country, facilities for work and adequate livelihood with reasonable rest and leisure and the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief for all such citizens. Wages are construed as the total remuneration payable to an employed person on the fulfillment of employment the employer's contribution to a pension or provident fund, and gratuity payable on discharge. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, regulates the payment of wages to certain classes of industrial workers. The employer is responsible for the payment of all wages required to be paid to persons employed by him or her. Similarly any contractor employing persons in an industry is responsible for payment of wages to the persons he or she employs.

PAGE: IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE GOVERNMENT MUST SERIOUSLY CONSIDER SETTING UP A PROFESSIONAL HR INSTITUTE, WHICH CAN BETTER SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE PROFESSION BY PROVIDING AN ESSENTIAL AND COMPREHENSIVE SET OF RESOURCES AND EXPERTISE. IT CAN BE A FOCAL POINT IN FRAMING HUMAN RESOURCE PRACTICES CONFORMING TO OUR NATIONAL REQUIREMENTS AND ALSO ADVISE POLICYMAKERS ON HR PRACTICES AND LEGISLATION. YOUR COMMENTS.

KARIM SIDDIQUI: In the public sector, we see a variety of professional HR institutes in about all the cities of the country, thus suggestion to setup the institutions for HR may be wastage of public resource. What I want to suggest is that we direly need to restructure the institutions by revamping the institutional framework. Indeed, it is the need of the time to consider setting up HR institutions as no single person can bring overnight change. For a real transformation, we have to have institutions regulatory autonomous body to control, organize, and regulate the network established by government. I understand that such initiatives from government's part will help build nation's trust in government as this will not only boost the economy but also the standard of living of a common person in the country. HRD will give nation a sense of satisfaction and realization of the potentials that they have to play a significant role in the development of country. I reckon that can better serve the needs of the profession.