Skilled Workforce: The engine of economic growth, social development

Skilled workforce engine of economic growth, social development
Skilled workforce engine of economic growth, social development

By Taj Nabi Khan

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28 (APP):Substantial share in employment opportunities, sustainable economic growth and social development is closely linked with human resource development, market-oriented professional skills, relevant-to-industry technical education, and vocational training in the highly competitive environment.

Human resource development improves economic growth and productivity as the socioeconomic development is not possible without catering the bulging youth of the country with skill development programs. Therefore, the promotion of technical education and Information Technology has become imperative for sustainable economic growth, job opportunities and high volume of remittances. The global as well as the regional markets hire only skilled resource persons who can run factories, companies and industries.

No one can deny the importance of skilled workforce as both locally and globally they play a vital role in boosting the economy. The full-fledged and large scale technical education programs can multiply remittances by creating a promising skilled workforce. The demand of IT experts, advanced digital skills, and trained resource persons have been increased manifold.

Pakistan, the fifth largest young country on map of the world with more than 63 percent population comprised of youth aged between 15 and 33 has no other choice but to utilize the untapped potential of the youngsters. The demographic power is the major driving force for economic growth and substantial social progress. The country has not yet fully utilized the potential of the youth. Instead of sending hard labors abroad, if Pakistan could dispatch skilled labor, the remittances would be doubled.

The workforce has slowly recognized that importance of technical education as it is linked with better chances of employ-ability and higher economic rewards. Skilled labor and knowledge-based economy can accelerate economic growth and social development through entrepreneurship and industrialization. The Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) sector can create the possibility of strong careers for the youth in national and global markets.

Only linking education with industry and training individuals with demand-driven skills as per the market needs would make them able to make valuable contribution to the economy and society at large. With the required skills and professional training, the skilled resource persons can fully explore both the domestic and international markets.

According to the available data, the country has no choice but to generate additional employment opportunities (at least 1.3 million per year) for the next five years to cope with rising ratio of unemployment. It is only possible to equip students with technical education and entrepreneurial skills right from the beginning as part of the curriculum. The future of the country lies in the hands of the youth and there is a dire need to invest in them to grow their skills, knowledge, and capacity to cope with the 21st century challenges.

Talking to APP, Joint Director of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Durre Nayab said, “The lack of quality workforce in Pakistan has caused higher ratio of unemployment in the country.” She said the bulging youth of the country is in dire need of market-oriented skills, cutting-edge technology, professional trainings, innovative approaches, paradigm shift and updated knowledge to cope with the rising issue of unemployment. “Most of the skills taught in our professional institutions are obsolete and outdated”, she added.

The Program Manager, Skills Development, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (KP-TEVTA), Khushal Khattak said the skilled workforce was absorbed in the industrial sector, local businesses, self-employment and entrepreneurship. He said, “Often the downtrodden segments opt for technical education so as to financially support their families as early as possible.”

Durr-e-Nayab has urged the government to review the entire system of education for incorporating market based relevant professional education and soft skills. She said, “We have to update our education system for making it compatible with the modern world.” In order to cope with present-day challenges, she said, the outdated stuff from the curriculum must be abandoned. “We left for behind in race of technical education as people around the globe are acquiring knowledge pertaining to artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics”, she added.

Khushal Khattak said the skill development helps people to generate income, contribute to the socioeconomic well-being of the country. He urged the government to launch mass sensitization campaign regarding awareness of technical education in the country. “The government should capitalize the rich human resource, particularly the fresh graduates in their startups initiatives and send them abroad to advance countries as skilled workforce”, he added.