PROVIDING LOCAL MANPOWER FOR A FULLY FUNCTIONAL GWADAR PORT

SYED FAZL-E-HAIDER
Feb 16 - 22, 2009

Presently, Gwadar port in Balochistan is all set to generate tremendous economic activity and create job opportunities for the local people. At least, twelve vessels carrying urea and wheat have so far been berthed at the port in the last two months. Gwadar has been designed as hub port and it requires handsome allocations for infrastructure development. There is a dire need for qualified and professional port staff for successful marketing of the port management to potential customers, building of export processing zone, trans-shipment and warehousing facilities, fixing of port tariffs for shipping companies in order to be competitive. Can Balochistan provide the required skilled manpower for executing the port-related operations?

There is a greater need to allocate significant resources for human development so that local people could benefit from the expected upsurge in economic activities in the province in the near future. The technological backwardness in Balochistan is likely to go against the interest of local people who may be deprived of having jobs in the Gwadar project for lack of skill and expertise. The primary beneficiaries of the project would be the non-locals and outsiders instead of the local people, who may be deprived of employment opportunities in port-related projects under the pretext of their technological backwardness. Access to the high-tech computing services is the requirement of present age of globalization. Information technology, scientific management related education and value adding knowledge are considered the keys and secrets of winning success in today's world of science and technology.

Many industries have been envisaged to be established in and around Gwadar. Skilled manpower would be needed for the operation of the port and the allied industries. Former government had decided to establish Gwadar Institute of Technology (GIT) in Mekran. Rs200 million had been allocated for setting up the new institute, which was aimed at strengthening entrepreneurship by establishing strong linkages between the institute and the industries of Gwadar port. The GIT was to be established under the supervision of Director General, Gwadar Development Authority who would be responsible for day to day activities. The GIT is a good step toward development of human resources in the province, and ultimately getting the local population involved in the development process.

Sustainable growth and poverty reduction objectives are linked to significant investment in human capital. The human development provides a wide range of choices and opportunities to the people for employment, nutrition, education and health care. Investment in human capital formation means investment in Education and health sectors. The better human capital equipped with education in Science and Technology can be instrumental in increased productively with modern technology in all economic sectors. This will enhance industrial productivity and increase exportable output of the country.

Human development indicators in Balochistan are the weakest among the four provinces and improvements will need concerted efforts over the long term. The rugged and inaccessible terrain, limited water resources for irrigation, large illiterate population, ethnic diversity, and traditional women's status are added challenges to economic growth and human development in the province. Women's inferior status is perpetuated by their curtailed mobility, discriminatory tribal and cultural practices, women's limited voice in critical household decisions, and political marginalization.

Balochistan has limited room to increase its social sector expenditures partly because of its high debt-service burden. The social sector expenditures mostly go to salaries, while non-salary expenditures are well below the global norms for the efficient and effective functioning of the social sectors. . Balochistan's poor education performance in the aggregate can be attributed largely to its poor record in educating girls. Only about one-third of girls, who should be in primary school, are enrolled in the province. Though mean boys' enrollment rates are not high either, especially among the poor, overall education levels cannot be improved without making a significant advance in the education of girls in Balochistan.

The province is yet to make significant attainments in the human development index (HDI), which focuses on measurable dimensions of human development such as living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. Thus, HDI combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy, and income.

The good governance is essential for the development of human resources. It ensures the transparency, efficiency and rationality in the utilization of public funds and national resources, encourages growth of the private sector, promotes effective delivery of public services and helps establish the rule of law. Along with good governance, the people friendly policies, and sound macroeconomic management are also of immense importance in this context.

The key areas need to focused for human development in Balochistan include: a rational and long-term planning, on-job training programs, technical education according to the needs of 21st century, secondary level education for development of critical skills, allocation of significant resources, setting up of technology institutes in various districts, the recruitment of qualified teachers, instructors and trainers, access to the high-tech computing services, information technology, scientific management related education and value adding knowledge.

Technical backwardness can only be combated through developing human resources in Balochistan. Darwinism in future scenario would be a natural phenomenon. Need is to prepare the local people for the worst and for the best, too. Nothing can bring about a change in life style of the people until and unless they accept the future challenges making up their mind for the change. Progressive mindset is need of the hour to survive the evolution.

There is an urgent need to create technical hands, and skilled labor in wake of the execution of mega seaport project in the province. Today, Balochistan seems to be at the crossroad finding a way for ending stagnancy of human resources and for resource mobilization strategies to meet the future challenges. Future scenario necessitates the development of human resources on war footings in the province. Those who build up their capacities and develop technical skills would be fit to survive the future technological boom. Only the educated, skilled and healthy people can make the best use of the enormous natural resources of the province. The development of human resources will raise labor efficiency and revolutionize the social attitudes and institutions in the province.

The human resource development should be regarded as pre-requisite for economic development of the province. If the local people are educated and trained in various technical skills and recruited in the Mega projects, they will be the forerunners in boosting economic activities in the province. This would give them stake in their province's development, and the local stakeholders can only ensure the steady and speedy development process.