LET’S have the bottom line first. The market is suffering from a disconnect. The reality of the job market differs from the types of educational degrees people go for, and, as a result, fresh graduates have a hard time finding jobs. Many eventually either resort to getting a more mainstream supplementary degree, thereby creating a glut, or become entrepreneurs.

Whatever the scenario, the initial realisation that jobs are not available because the degree that has cost hundreds of thousands is redundant leads to frustration, creating an air of general disillusionment and a high incidence of brain drain.

One of the factors for the disconnect is the of lack of coordination between academia and industry owing to the dearth of market and labour statistics and the lack of standards in educational institutions. Most universities have faculty with little or no market exposure, thereby leading to uninformed career counselling, if any.

The other factor is the lack of any strategic, farsighted, government labour policy.

The lack of labour statistics is the foremost issue. Due to the blackout prevalent in this sector “universities don’t know which professions provide the greatest opportunities or what the upcoming trends are”, says the managing partner of a major HR firm.

Due to the blackout prevalent in this sector “universities don’t know which professions provide the greatest opportunities or what the upcoming trends are”, says the managing partner of a major HR firm

The situation starts deteriorating when educational institutions incorporate substandard curriculums. “Good universities that are working actively to bridge the gap are few and cost a lot. The average Pakistani can’t afford to study in them while the faculty in the others has negligible market exposure.

“They end up giving their students the uninformed perception that employers are waiting for them with open arms. The reality is a huge shock for fresh graduates,” says the managing partner.

Obaidullah Sharif, founder of The Recruiters, says that in his experience there is no concept of mentoring or career counselling in universities. “Students don’t know what their passion is, so they go into the wrong field and end up unhappy”.

What, then, is being done to bridge this gap?

While it all depends on planned job creation,students must be made aware, before choosing a profession, what to expect as they enter the field. Currently it is very unclear what programme leads to what job.

While calling the market “lethargic”, the consultants also point to the government’s lack of foresight and inability to tap into opportunities. Working with educational institutions and the industry to develop a labour force with the right skill-set is of the utmost importance.

“Public-private partnerships with educational institutions are the only hope. Projects under these partnerships have a clear-cut conclusion while support from the government will help level the path for a successful implementation”, opines the managing partner.

An ideal scenario would be one in which there is close coordination between the labour departments and educational institutions so that students may go for degrees as per the needs of the market, which, in turn, would be guided by long-term strategic planning.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2017



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