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Lack of skills main hurdle in return on investment

The News - 05 March 2015 - LAHORE: The lack of skills remained an obstacle in the return on investment and it is high time the planners should start assessing the quality of skills available among the people, experts suggested on Wednesday.

This is why the entry-level jobs remained vacant for a long period, they said.

“Skills are termed as the new global ‘currency’ that determines social mobility and well being,” said Mohsin Syed former Chairman TEVTA.

He said, a recent study has revealed that individuals without good foundation are almost two times more likely to be unemployed.

Because of the low skill potential they are not trusted in performing a job, he said, adding it is high time that our planners assess the quality of the skills available in the population.

“They should find out as to what skills are required in the market and initiate urgent plans to implant only those that would lead to jobs and better lives.”

Syed said vocational training experts are closely studying the German model, a work-based training model, combined with off-the-job education in order to prepare the young generation for the market.

Skills acquired through this apprenticeship can significantly improve the bumpy road that has become increasingly more precarious in school-to-work transition.

He said the bridge between education and employment has collapsed not only in Pakistan but in developed economies as well.

Global research has revealed that a young college graduate is three times more likely to be out of work than his or her parents whereas the International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated that 75 million young people are jobless around the world.

It is not unreasonable to assume that the strong emphasis placed on ‘dual systems’ of vocational training that starts in schools at tenth grade, combined with both cultural and institutional incentives for employers to recruit via apprenticeship, is a key factor underpinning low youth unemployment in all German states, he added.

Entrepreneur-educationist Almas Hyder said college expansion in Pakistan was made in response to the growing need for managers and scientists to fill the bureaucratic posts in education, health and civil services that were created.

However, he added the managerial posts and bureaucratic openings are now far and few while the number of graduates and masters are increasing every year.

Because of the expansion the supply has been flooded with graduates while the demand remains very low.

Now graduates and masters apply for very low grade office jobs, he said, adding that the return of investment in money and time consumed in education is now pathetically low.

He said now persons with primary skills like plumbing and welding with low or no education are earning more than a single college graduate.

“Even those car or motorcycle mechanics that acquired the skills through vocational training or apprenticeship with senior mechanics are better off financially than jobless graduates.”

Though, he indicated that in places where structured apprenticeships still exist, the return of investment is substantial for individuals, employers, and society as a whole. Learning-and-earning approach associated with formal apprenticeship models pays both to the apprentice and higher earnings for the companies, he added.

Entrepreneur Syed Mansoor Abbas said knowledge economy is important but it would be a folly to overlook certain skills that would always be in demand.

For instance, a leaking toilet would always need a plumber as it could not be repaired over internet. “Challenge of the policy makers and educationists is to meaningfully engage employers to ensure that the human resource nurtured, fulfills the demand of the market.”

He said apprenticeship has been in vogue for centuries. It is a means of imparting valuable skills from one generation to the other. The planners should convince the companies to promote apprenticeship through on job training and taking lower skilled workforce to higher level through regular refresher and upgrading processes.

He said some of the fastest growing jobs now do not require a college degree but high quality of apprenticeship. He said countries like Germany and Switzerland that have lower university participation rates but better quality vocational training systems leading to low rate of youth unemployment.



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