IN advanced capitalist economies, being a factory worker is now becoming a thing of the past. Robots are being introduced almost in all industry at an astounding pace.

The growth of global robot industry manifests this fact. In the past, a person could work in a factory without having sufficient skills.

Now when robots are doing work, handling and operating robots require skills which Pakistanis lack owing to their flawed education system that does not meet the requirements of the modern job market. Already the literacy rate is showing negative growth.

In 2016, it was 60 per cent. Today, it is just 58pc. To aggravate the matters further, our education institutions continue to churn out graduates that fail to attract international businesses.

Currently, the duo of protectionism and nationalism is rearing its ugly head. The US and China have huge shares in global economy. Both countries are entangled in a trade war, which, according to the International Monetary Fund, will shrink global economic growth. This means growth rates of national economies too will contract.

When growth rates go down, so do employment opportunities. Therefore, in order to prevent unemployment among natives, host countries will no more host immigrants. They will resort to protectionism to protect their people and their markets.

There are two drivers that fuel an economy: external and internal. External drivers of the economy include remittances, loans, and money earned from exports. Internal drivers of economy include mobilisation of human and natural resources.

External drivers of economy always remain subject to change. They remain vulnerable to global changes that take place frequently. Let’s suppose if another global economic crisis breaks out, the inflows of loans, assistance and remittances will be choked. If Pakistan is to grow in an even manner, it will need to rely more on internal drivers.

This is perhaps the best way to salvage the economy. In this regard, policymakers need to focus more and more on human capital and tapping the untapped human resources.

The untapped human and natural resources are playing no vital role in Pakistan’s economy. Despite having abundant oil and gas resources, we continue to import them from other countries. We return remittances to countries when we pay import bills. Succinctly, we waste money earned by expat Pakistanis. If internal drivers of economy are given attention, Pakistan can avoid a debt trap and can utilise the energies of oversees Pakistanis rightly.

Alim Ullah Soomro
Karachi

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2019

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