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Human Resources Development in Pakistan

Both traditional education and traditional job centres are disappearing very fast

By Dr. Nasir Afghan (SZAB1ST Faculty Member)
Sep 04 - 10, 2000

The gap between the technological skills needed for the new economy and the traditional education institutions is increasing fast. There is an urgent need to identify the knowledge skills needed for the new economy and then developing these skills through training and education. There are two strategies to achieve Human Resources Development objectives in Pakistan. One is through the changes within the curriculum of our education institutions; at Colleges, Universities, Polytechnics levels. New changes within the curriculum should satisfy the demands of the industries and the new economy. The second strategy is developing Human Resources Development Centres in the country. These Human Resources Development Centres will provide young graduates, the skills needed for the new economy; information technology, software and Internet related industry.

As we all know that the traditional tools of skills and knowledge accumulation are developed around traditional degrees; MA, BA, MSc, BE, etc. These traditional education centers and degrees are no more relevant to the new economy. On the other hand the traditional job centers including government departments and ministries (food, agriculture, health, education, communication etc) public sector organizations such as PIA, WAPDA, KDA, KESC, public banks etc are no more major employment center. Both traditional education and traditional job centres are disappearing very fast.

The new economy is the digital economy, this economy is based on knowledge workers and knowledge products. Nevertheless, it must be very clear that business fundamentals remain the same and that is product and services. Product and services still need to be produce and provided to the customers locally and globally. Nevertheless, the new economy and Internet economy provided the tools to reach and satisfy customer everywhere in the world, much faster and much cheaper.

Internet techonology and communication technology changing everything and influencing every business and non-business organisations. Even lifestyles, food habits, reading habits and our learning needs are moving from being generalists to specialists. Agriculturists are looking into bio (genetic) engineering to improve the quality and quantity of the crop. Accountants are moving in the direction of financial analysts. Engineering moving towards communication and network engineering, information technologist, computer engineering etc. All these new professions were unknown ten years ago if not five years ago. It is very loud and clear that knowledge and skills have to be compatible with the external environment. Then the question is how to face this phenomenon and what should we do as a nation.

There are three alternate possibilities:
1) Isolating ourselves from the rest of the world or
2) Mass-migrate from the large rural and suburban sites to the cities, or
3) Develop Human Resources for the dynamic world. First and second alternates are inconceivable, third is the only possibility. Then the question is what is Human Resources Development and how to develop it? Human Resource Development can be understood from two perspectives. The development sector defines the term from the socio-economic development point of view, while the corporate sector (private business) defines it from the perspective of professional skills and capabilities needed to perform task in the new economy.

Conceptually the HRD centres provide the short-term skill training in areas identified through the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) in the industry and in the education institutions. Through this short and medium term training, it is hoped that the unemployed graduates will get job opportunities in the new economy industries. To answer the second part how to develop the Human Resources Development concept we have conducted a province wide research, the objective of study was;

To determine the essential professional skills needed by the young graduates to fulfil the requirement of the new economy.

To conduct a survey within different colleges of Karachi to determine the deficiency of skills among students.

To conduct a survey within the industry of Karachi (via Human Resources Managers of respective industry / firm) to determine the most essential skills for future employees.

Industry survey results: This section provides the findings from the industry skill survey. The industry skill survey was conducted within the Manufacturing, Trading and Service business organizations (36 firms) in Sindh. These included multinationals, local, private and public enterprises. The objective of this survey was to determine the essential professional skills needed by the future employers and to perceive the requirement of the industry.

1. Core Business Activity of the surveyed organization:

Manufacturing 58%, Trading 05%, Services 37%

2. Type of Enterprise: Multinational 47%, Local 53%

Four main skill areas are most essential from industry point of view for new employees

1. Communication and Presentation skills
2. Computer / IT skills
3. English (Written / Spoken) skills
4. Marketing / Selling skills

Most business organizations hire MBA, B.Com. BBA, B.Sc. BCS, MCS, CA, ICMA, and BE graduates. None of the company indicated hiring BA, MA and Arts graduates.

However, few did show policy to hire Lawyers and Agriculture graduates. Survey results also indicate that jobs are only available for the highly skilled and the highly educate graduates especially in computer-related fields.

Student survey results: This section provides the findings from the student skill survey. The student survey was conducted, among 23 colleges, all over the Sindh, including government, private and professional colleges. The objective of this survey was to determine the essential professional skills needed by the students to find jobs in the industry. Student sample size was 250 students, from intermediates, BA, B.Sc., and B. Com level.

Four main skill areas are most essential from the student point of view, for getting the jobs in the industry.

1. Communication and Presentation skills
2. Computer / IT skills
3. English (Written / Spoken) skills
4. Financial / Accounting skills

Both industry and student survey results are identical, except for marketing / selling in industry and financial / accounting in student survey. Most of these skill areas are not included in our higher-level education institution curriculum. Only business and computer related institutions providing the skills essential for job. From this study it is found that there is a strong need for developing software professionals with excellent English language skills for future job Market. Moreover, the two fold strategies needed to be developed at a national level. On the one hand redesigning the degree program curriculum and including computer education part of the every degree programs; BA, B.Com or Engineering. On the other hand Developing Human Resources Development Centers especially for the software development and English training in major cities of Pakistan.