HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT; A PRINCIPAL NEED FOR ECONOMIC PROGRESS
SAAD ANWAR HASHMI
Nov 12 - 18, 2012
Human Resources Development entails expansion of human capital within an organization through the development of both the organization and the individual to achieve performance improvement. According to Adam Smith "The capacities of individuals depended on their access to education". Human Resource Development is the integrated use of training, organization, and career development efforts to improve individual, group and organizational effectiveness. It develops the key competencies that enable individuals in organizations to perform current and future jobs through planned learning activities. Though the definition may be restricted to only human development within a company, we could apply the same principles if we consider Pakistan to be a country operating like any company aiming towards a common goal. This is where education, training and development across the board become paramount. The literacy rate would project economic development and the capacity to which the country can use its workforce to meet all challenges.
If we move back in history, USA with the most modern and the best universities in the world has been developing institutions for education and training since mid-1850's. Today this education is the reason why USA leads in Technology, Defense and Scientific Research. USA is also the superpower and has the highest per capita production in the world with a population of 313 million people. Pakistan has a population of 180 million people with a median age of 21.5 years for both male and female. Based on literacy which is defined as those who have attained the age of 15 and can read and write is estimated at 49.9% with male literacy at 70% and female literacy rate being 46%. The literacy estimates continue under question for accuracy. Pakistan primarily comprises of a young population which brings an additional challenge for the country to provide avenues where this talent is trained and educated with the required skill set enough for them to earn a livelihood.
Reasons for illiteracy and low focus on education are various. However, the ultimate responsibility resides with the government for not providing quality education and vocational training for improving such skills. Pakistan only spends 2.1% of its GDP on education whereas neighboring countries e.g. India spends 4.1% with a literacy rate of 74% and Sri Lanka spends 5.5% of its budget on GDP with a literacy rate of 96%. It is evident that the more the government spends on quality education and training, the higher the literacy which leads to economic development. The lack of focus on education by the current and previous governments has resulted in widespread unemployment, brain drain and increase in the level of crime year on year. Since employment opportunities are further squeezed due to downturn in the economy and recessionary gap, the younger generation who can afford mainstream education try to find opportunities elsewhere by moving abroad.
The literacy rate in Pakistan is low leading to poverty. Children in lower socio economic class who formulate the majority find themselves in an environment where basis necessities of life are absent. Faced with poverty and lack of food supplies, most are forced to leave education and pursue a job which pays a minimum wage to support their parents. With time and age, some deviate and pursue a life of crime while others try to develop a skill which continues to pay them a minimum wage, enough to pay rent and put food on the table. With high inflation and consistent rise in price of basic commodities and foodstuff, those earning a minimum wage find themselves in high degree of frustration leading to revolt. Those who find it difficult to sustain a living can better their lives to education or acquiring skills through vocational training. The biggest challenge faced by Pakistan is to create an environment that fosters education and training with skills that caters to employment demand.
The operating condition of government controlled schools, colleges and universities shows that neither the budget allocated for education in Pakistan is sufficient nor the utilization of allocated funds is done as required due to corruption leading to under and misutiliztion of recourses and budgets. Pakistan lacks quality vocational training institutes which are instrumental to provide skills to those who are less fortunate and eager to attend schools. Vocational training is especially important for special people to make them productive resource capable of earning a wage. Those who receive vocational training are facing difficulties in finding the jobs for which the skill is acquired due to economic recession. Additionally, blue collar jobs in Pakistan, specially in rural areas are ideally given through personal contacts, race and ethnic background which further adds to the challenge to look for jobs. Special people who acquire skills for a certain job are discriminated against due to their disability. Secondly, employers do not kept a provision to hire special people and often pay lower than market average if they are hired. The equipment used for training at government controlled vocational schools is outdated and not at par with the equipment used in the industry or by private institutions. With change in technology and means of carrying out a particular task, vocational schools do not provide advance trainings as the instructors themselves lack training. With two-third of Pakistan's population residing in rural areas, Pakistan is estimated to have 3,100 vocational training institutes which could be instrumental in providing training to the rural community if budget allocated.
The country needs to focus on education for improving the skills for those who are involved specially in manufacturing, land improvements, construction, trading, farming and machinery coupled with education and related experience which leads to worker specialization to assist in reduction in overall cost of manufacturing. Specialization and technical skill set eventually leads to sharing of knowledge to improve the competency of those who are less trained. Training and skill development is a major investment which would keep people employed and would reduce the level of crime and poverty in the country.
As more individuals are trained and pursue a job in line with their training, the success can be measured through reduction in crime rate and poverty. Once again, this cannot be seen in isolation since the government needs to provide avenues through development projects to create employment opportunities in line with those who are trained and skills acquired. Pakistan must make efforts to reduce the level of poverty through encouragement of education and training to assist the country lead towards a better tomorrow through its people who have the required skills to take on challenging opportunities and improve their standard of living. The pace of improvement in skills and human development therefore depends on education.