VOCATIONAL, TECHNICAL TRAINING GOING ASTRAY

TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI (tariqsaeedi@hotmail.com)
July 07 - 13, 2008

While importance of vocational and technical training to develop manpower base of labour intensive Pakistan is a cognizable fact to all government and non government quarters lacking in something or some point has been putting halts in raising productivity level of indigenous labours at its optimal.

The efforts of government in creating network of skill development centres and vocational and technical training institutes across the country have albeit left behind that of private sector, the ramifications that would have sprouted a sustainable knowledge based economy have not as yet been up to the mark.

Two pronged problems on part of government are commonly observed for their closed and cogent interlinks: firstly despite sizeable state funding in skill and capacity building of labours placement and recruitment services are pathetically impotent, cause of which partly lies in designs of trade and vocation; second having analogy to other government departments is lacklustre marketing campaign designed to promote vocational and technical training programmes. Nonetheless society's close knitted structure and industrial processes needs for such programmes, well orchestrated marketing plan is essential to position and enhance the importance of technical training.

UNGUIDED DROPOUTS

Currently significant numbers of skill development centres and training institutes are operating in all provinces of the country. By offering range of short period courses and long period diploma courses these institutes to some extent fulfil the manpower requirements of trade and industry. However, to larger extent students have to dither away in finding source of earning following having attained diploma course in spite of technical knowledge, which doubles chances of employability, they possess.

Barring opportunity of self employment that too is interspersed with considerable obstacles, their having less employment avenues are directly related to lacking in curriculum designing. The curricula of vocation and trade whether for short or long term programmes can open range of new career opportunities for labour force if they have compatibility with the market trends. Not entirely, yet, many institutes nationwide present outdated syllabi of diploma courses.

For example, majors in electrics or architecture have been usual in diplomas for decades. This does not deny the vitality of these subjects, of carpentry or other occupations, but missing factors of upgraded dynamics in these subjects are tantamount to make them ineffective. The causing element of unemployment ratio amongst diploma holders is primarily incongruity of their certificates with existing market opportunities.

Similarly, short courses offered in skill development centres even though mirror demanding occupations in vogue, what they sometimes are incapable of is maintaining consistent pace with ever changing technology, time, and sciences. Official of Sindh technical board told this scribe, the emergence of telecommunication opens door to multitude of vocations and trades which can be mentored to generate employments. But, our infrastructure is neither efficient enough to avail transient developments, nor is it adaptable to market changing conditions, he said.

However, prudent management of technical knowledge of trained and energetic youths can lower down the unemployment graph and bring up improvement in GNP. He said there surface regular demands of furniture and fixtures repairing in various government departments and these demands can easily be fulfilled in the technical and vocational training nurseries. By utilizing talents of our own we can start up immense earning opportunities for labour force along with slash government non development expenditures to an agreeable level.

IMPOTENT MARKETING

Diploma holders are in the country regarded as sub-engineers and their certificates intermediate equivalent. At a stretch of mandatory three year after matriculation one engages in studying diploma course that includes combination of theory and workshop assignment. In real term time spent in such course is more than that in higher schooling and job value of this is relatively higher; nevertheless standardization of diploma with intermediate downgrades essence of the course.

While this tenure of study suffices to build and advance skill of student the status of diploma has not revived its highest pinnacle of eighties when it was seen with reverence and considered one of prominent study choices. Basically till then other technical studies were available less in numbers.

Now except training courses aka apprenticeship started by different govt organizations with limited seats for external applicants training programmes in polytechnic or monotechnic institutes do not enlist in candidate's topmost study options. Considered as mere employment generator, vocational or technical training is rarely followed by successive higher technical studies such as B-tech. Indeed further studies hit the snag for two main reasons 1) scant quantity of private or public institutes or universities having relevant trades at grad level; for instance an avionics diploma holder would find one or two institutions with specialized graduate programme in the whole country 2) real income outstretching fee structure.

Vocational and technical trainings could be promoted in the society by literal interpretation of marketing. Training in accordance with market dynamics and labour force tendency can be more fruitful. Fortunately Pakistan is a part of the region which is bestowed with human capital. Little flexibility in labour force and increasing market adaptability can reap the benefits of this blessing. Manpower flexibility implies upgrading of skills, capacity building without facing rigidity element.

Vocational and technical trainings can play wonders for enhancing productivity of agriculture sector of the country. Farm workers including women peasants could be trained of various techniques of value addition. This will not only increase the growth rate of the sector but also improve the standard of living of sector's workforce. In sub urban areas in addition to reduction in unemployment rate subsequent benefit of technical training would be translated into knowledge based economy.