EMPLOYMENT & HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY

By SABEEN IBRAHIM
Mar 27 - Apr 02, 2006

The overall production volume in automobile industry has witnessed tremendous growth during past few years and has more than doubled over the last two years. These increases in operations of the industry have benefited the country in numerous ways.

The main contributory factor by the industry is providing employment to people from all walks of life; ranging from engineers, technicians, skilled workers and mechanics to chartered accountants, marketing and sales professionals, management executives and a host of professionals from different fields. From the engineering perspective, the auto industry provides employment to professionals from all fields of engineering, e.g. mechanical, metallurgical, electrical, industrial, electronics, chemicals, materials, civil, architecture, design, etc.

All the major car manufacturers are planning to further increase their production in the next five years. With the implementation of these plans, significant investments will be made in Pakistan. Alongside other economic benefits, there will be a sharp rise in the direct employment with this sector. Employment is expected to double in next 5 years. The rapid growth in the industry is paying the benefits to every stakeholder in the economy and trends clearly indicate that the continuous growth will provide direct employment to a large number of persons. Moreover it will indirectly give rise to employment to an even greater number of people in the allied vendor industry.

Currently, one of the biggest problems faced by the country is unemployment. The census results show that the unemployment rate is over 60%. With the pace that the auto industry is moving, it ensures to eliminate the problem to a large extent in next ten to fifteen years. This, however, requires policies that are favourable to the industry. The existing players in the market are expanding their operations, while a number of investors have shown an interest in this sector. This shows that there is plenty of room in the market for new products and services. But if the government policies are not supportive, not only will new future investments be curtailed but the interests of existing companies will diminish. The worst case scenario could even be the withdrawal of investments, which could lead to even higher unemployment.

Apart from providing employment, the auto industry is taking measures to retain these people by developing their skills base. The industry has realised the importance of training and development of the work force. A number of programs are being developed and implemented internally as well as externally to train the work force. People at all levels, i.e. from simple labour to highly technical staff to senior management, everyone is required to participate in these training programs. According to estimates the industry in the last fifteen years has invested over 2 million man hours in training and development.

There are a number of examples in this regard. A Technical Training Programme has been organized by Hinopak Motor's Product Support Training Centre, aimed at providing the technical know how of the Hino products to its employees.

A similar but on a larger scale; a program aimed mainly at students is being funded by Toyota in Karachi and Lahore. Known as the Toyota Technical Education Program (T-TEP), this program is established at GCT Lahore and St Patrick's Technical Institute Karachi. Through this program, Toyota assists these institutes in enhancing the quality of technical education focusing on transferring the latest technology in automobile engineering and servicing. The T-TEP program bridges the gap between the auto industry and educational institutes, creating a new breed of highly skilled auto technicians who have found ready employment within and outside Pakistan.

Further, the government has allocated a figure of Rs. 500 million for an initial three year period to upgrade all technical training institutions which are functioning country wide. Under this scheme, the aim is to train 165,000 youths per year to help meet the demand for skilled manpower.

This training and development is not limited to the employees or the graduating students. The vendors of the car manufacturers also are being provided with opportunities to equip themselves, as well as their teams, with the latest technological progress. Dewan Motors has also arranged in the past a seminar for the vendors to help equip them with the knowledge of implementation of ISO standards.

Additionally, the industry is providing a number of human resource development opportunities by providing on the job training, apprenticeships and internships to fresh graduates and students. In this regard the industry also supports a large number of educational institutes by hiring their professionals in both management and technical sides. The industry is also actively contributing towards sponsoring educational events, workshops, seminars & conferences and arranging for scholarships.

The international standards adopted by the automobile industry have created a truly professional work force which is a role model for other sectors to emulate. The industry professionals are on visiting faculties of a number of institutions. These professionals contribute to the society by imparting their knowledge and expertise at various conferences and policy making forums, both locally and internationally.

The workforce is contributing to the government revenue by paying personal income taxes. The industry's production systems, marketing techniques, materials and inventory management, supply chain expertise, accounting standards, cost optimization, and specially the training and human resource development efforts are being lauded and adopted by other sectors of the economy.

It is a well known fact that auto industry is growing at a fast pace. The good thing is that it is not only the companies or the entrepreneurs that are being benefited but the government and masses too are sharing the benefits. Be it economic stability, providing employment opportunities or even development of human resource, the auto industry is playing its due role to the fullest. With further growth the industry one can only foresee a better future for Pakistan and its economy.