EXPORTING SKILLED WORK FORCE
SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Dec 20 - 26, 2010
Training and skills development play vital role in the development a country. The demand for vocationally trained and technically educated human resource rises with industrialisation and modernisation of production units and work premises. Therefore, skill and capital are complementary. A review of the status of vocational training, policies, and practices and their impact on the development of human resource in Pakistan indicates urgent need to enhance skill development programs. It is also evident that there exists a wide gap between demand and supply of effective work force and lack of coordination amongst government and private agencies. There is a need to update and revise the existing curriculums, enhance status of teachers, and strengthen institutions. Pakistan has favorable demographic transition trend, therefore, there is a need to exploit it properly.
The key industries of Pakistan include textiles and clothing, sugar, automobiles, fertiliser, refining etc. However, a quick review shows an acute shortage of institution, which can affect contemporary training.
Vocational training can improve efficiencies, minimise wastages and achieve greater value addition. Textiles and clothing sector not only has the most elaborate infrastructure but also suffers from gross inefficiencies. The ginning factories still use highly obsolete technology, which damages the fiber. The ultimate result is that Pakistan still produces coarse counts of yarn from cotton capable of producing medium and fine counts. Weaving and processing is done on outdated machines. Output of workers involved in stitching (assembly lines) is very low. Wastages are highest at cutting level, due to non-deployment of computer-aided technology. If modern technology is used fabric waste can be reduced by two-third.
Sugar is the largest agro based industry and the driving engine of rural economy. However, the average capacity utilisation is pathetically poor. The industry is capable of producing nine million tonnes refined sugar but average annual production hovers around 3.5 million tonnes. The factors for poor capacity utilisation include from an acute shortage of sugarcane to inefficient plants. Production and productivity of sugarcane can be doubled by planting high yielding varieties and better crop management without enhancing area under sugarcane cultivation. A little attention on sugarcane crop can help in saving millions of dollars being spent on import of refined sugar. In fact, this industry can help in earning hundred of millions of dollars by exporting sugar, molasses and ethyl alcohol. However, this is not possible without improving skills of all those involved, from growers to sugar technologists.
Realising the role of skilled and technically educated manpower for development of overall national economy, the government of Pakistan has established the National Vocational & Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC). The commission has been assigned the mandate to facilitate, regulate, and provide policy direction for technical education and vocational training to meet national and international demand for skilled work force.
The commission reviews, devises policy and evolves strategy/prepares training programs relating to human resource development focusing on technical education and training. Navtec is also responsible for developing national occupational skills standards, curricula and trade testing certification systems for all sectors in which technical education and vocational training is imparted.
Navtec in collaboration with the ministry of tourism, Pakistan Institute of Hotel & Tourism Management (PITHM), Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP), Pak-Austrian Institute for Tourism & Hotel Management (PAITHOM) and Lahore Institute of Technical Education (LITE) organises courses of different duration in tourism and hospitality sector. These courses are organized at Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Swat (Gulibagh), Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Chitral. As a model of public-private partnership, NAVTEC in collaboration with Marriott also runs courses in hospitality at Islamabad.
Training courses include front office (receptionist), food service (waiter), food production (cooking) and housekeeping. Courses are designed to impart skills to both men and women with minimal literacy and comprise theory and on-the-job practice at selected hotels.
Responding to the demands of skilled work force for the construction sector, Navtec in collaboration with Construction Technology Training Institute (CTTI), Islamabad, Lahore Institute of Technical Education (LITE) Lahore, Balochistan Institute of Technical Education at Quetta organises training courses ranging from three to six months duration. Training courses include construction material laboratory technician, civil draughtsman, basic civil surveyor, mechanic, heavy machinery operator, electrician, turner mechanist, carpenter, building painter, steel fixer, plumber, sanitary and brick layer/mason.
Keeping in view the key role of agriculture sector in creating job opportunities, Navtec in collaboration with the best agricultural universities organises skills development courses in livestock and dairy sector. Courses are conducted at Agriculture University Faisalabad, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore, Islamia University Bahawalpur, and Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan.
WORK FORCE EXPORT
Many experts term large population of Pakistan a course. However, they do not realise that it is one of the biggest assets of the country. At present, workers remittances amounts are getting close to one billion dollars a month and there is potential for further growth. Some of the critics are also afraid of 'brain drain' but do not take into account high unemployment rate prevailing in the country. Until recently Pakistan has been exporting unskilled or semi skilled workforce, often accused of suffering from low productivity as compared to the workers of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Bangladesh. A little focus of vocational training in the trades most demanded in the Middle East can help in getting better recognition for themselves as well as earning more foreign exchange for the country. A better inaction with the consulates of these countries can also help in removing the label that Pakistanis are not good workers.