If the NIP programme is garlanded with some modifications, it will contribute tremendously in improving the efficiency of the public sector.

SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Bureau Chief, Islamabad
May 21 - 27, 2007

The National Internship Programme (NIP) launched by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad in March this year has, by now, taken roots in all the four provinces of the country. Under this well conceived programme with a dual objective of curbing unemployment among educated youth and providing training to raw hand stuff, over 50,000 youth completing 16 years of education from recognized universities/ degree awarding institutions in Pakistan will be hired as internees to receive on the job training against a fixed stipend of Rs.10,000 per month for a period of one year.

The first phase, which will be completed by next month envisages placement of 10,000 youngsters on job training, which include 4,600 from Punjab, 1,650 from Sindh, 1,530 from NWFP and 2,220 from Balochistan.

Launching the programme in Islamabad, the President said that the government has launched different programmes to eradicate poverty, improve employment and impart technical training to the people especially the youth to improve their living standard and ensure progress and prosperity in the country. He said this programme has been launched for unemployed post graduates through training and skill development. It was possible due to improved economic conditions of the country and enhanced investment in various sectors, he added.

The President said the government wanted to pass on the benefits of the economic development to the masses and was making sincere efforts to create new jobs and National Internship Programme is part of these efforts. He said through providing more jobs and especially through NIP, the government has taken steps to empower the youth, which is an important segment of society. The government, he said, had already taken steps for the political and economic empowerment of women through various legislative measures so that they should not lack behind due to economic constraints. Congratulating the successful interns, the President asked them to fully utilize the opportunities available to them through NIP, which would be for one year.

The programme was launched by the Prime Minister in the provincial capitals. He observed the government was consciously realizing its prime responsibility of training the raw handed stuff. This positive gesture of the government will not only build confidence in the young blood but also broaden their vision with modest professional approach needed to exhibit the ethical behaviour.

This positive gesture of the government will not only build confidence in the youths, but also broaden their vision with modest professional approach needed to exhibit the ethical behaviour. The basic objective of this programme is to harness the energy and motivation of educated youth as paid in terms in the public sector. The government has set the following objectives to be achieved.

* Provision of financial relief to young degree holders.

* Improvement in the performance of public sector through internship of young, educated and motivated youth.

* Enhanced employability and capacity of fresh graduates for a better professional future.

The above mentioned objectives explicitly show that this programme has been launched after analyzing the foremost problems faced by young graduates. There is no bondage by the government, but a simple contract for limited period of one year, which can be terminated within 15 days. This is the vision of the government.

The issue of unemployment and the story of inexperienced graduates do not end here. There are some questions, which need to be well thought out after starting this programme.

First, the government shall invest its pecuniary and human resources to train the educated individuals under this programme. There is no doubt about the official brushing up of these newly appointed interns. This will enhance their performance level, problem-solving skills and improve industry awareness. These interns are not bound to serve the government after getting trained. When the government is consuming its resources to develop the human resource of the country, it should also make use of their knowledge and skills for a maximum period of 3 to 5 years. This will not only help in improving the performance of government functionaries, but also increase the interest of inters in managing the public business. The prescribed period of one year is a very limited time for understanding the business, organization, and leadership skills, inter-personal relationship skills, negotiation skills and especially, coping skills.

Second, what is the future of these interns after completing this one-year programme? Will they be welcomed openly by the corporate sector with this official certificate"? Shall this one-year experience open the doors of dynamic future, economic prosperity and a respectable position in a multinational organization? It is one of the core responsibilities of the government to get this certificate validated from the corporate sector. The prime objective is to equip the fresh graduates with a certified experience. If this experience could not get the desired level of appreciation from the market, it will not only shake the confidence of certified and experienced graduates, but also flatten the hopes of the new inters. The first batch will have a lot of anticipation during this period of time. So this certificate should have its own worth in the public and private sectors.

Third, the government should also review its policy of one-year contract based internship programme. This is a great chance to directly evaluate and assess the potential of dazzling young graduates. In this way, it will also be a great opportunity for energetic and innovative interns to show their abilities and skills. So by availing this chance, the government should extend the services of instrumental and zealous graduates. As a matter of fact, the government is also facing shortage of officials in its different departments, division and corporations. In this way there would be availability of trained individuals to be posted at the vacant positions. It will also help the authorities to evaluate them and appoint them as per their qualification in the available position. This programme should be transformed into a talent hunt scheme to induct talent and capable human resource in the public sector.

Fourth, there should be a standard, specific and proper evaluation system of these interns. Their contract should be extended or terminated on the basis of their performance appraisal. In private sectors, the interns are not normally allowed to get access to important and secret matters. So they are treated on the basis of a temporary appointed person who will be leaving the organization in due course of time. In this way, they neither get trained in certain specialized tasks nor get appraised on the basis of performance. There should be a systematic and well-organized system of assigning tasks and then further evaluation at the end of their term. Furthermore, they should be terminated and re-inducted on the basis of their evaluation report.

This programme can be a gateway for hiring of services of qualified staff of diversified fields. After completion of one year, the government should maintain a data bank of these interns and further polish them by appointing them as per their qualification, interest and experience within the public sector. The departments and divisions with available vacancies can fulfill their demands by utilizing this official data bank. This programme has dynamic features if it is planned as a permanent intake programme to develop the readily available human resource. The major amount of budget of developed countries is being spent on human resource development. The government-sponsored National Internship Programme is highly substantial, prolific, industrious and encouraging for the learned, eligible, skilled and competent individuals to prepare them for facing the challenges of the coming era. It seems that it needs to be reviewed and transformed into an ongoing process. If it is garlanded with some modifications, it will contribute tremendously in improving the efficiency of the public sector.