IT has often been complained by the national corporate sector that the majority of fresh university graduates are ill-prepared to join the market as they do not often have the basic employment skills. When interviewed by the employers, fresh graduates fail to demonstrate the skills needed for the job.

Pakistan is not the only country facing the skill gap problem. The gap between what the employers want and what a new graduate is capable of is prevalent in the developed world as well. A number of surveys conducted in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are available, showing the dissatisfaction of the interviewers with the fresh graduates.

The expectations of the corporate sector from the graduates perfectly matching their job description and requirements are unrealistic. The purpose of university education is manifold; the graduates are prepared for a variety of career avenues. It caters to those who plan to join the corporate sector as well as those who may pursue PhD studies and join research and development institutes, and some may even become entrepreneurs. Hence, universities by their very nature need to strengthen students’ abilities in a multi-dimensional way. University education cannot be industry-specific in the narrow sense of the term.

The over-emphasis on one dimension of skill learning to mould the students for a single set of skills is the domain of short-term diploma and certificate courses; not of the universities that have to, and should, focus on the harmony of an overall learning process.

This takes nothing away from the universities’ responsibility to produce qualified individuals for the corporate sector. However, the grievance of the industry at large cannot be addressed by universities alone. The industry needs to step forward and become part of the solution.

There are several types of skill development experiences which the firms can offer to interested students, including job shadowing, networking events, mentorship programmes, skill competitions, apprenticeships and internships. This way the firms can develop the needed skills in the graduates and build their own database of prospective employees.

University students love to be challenged and to have the opportunity to compete. The proactive attitude of industry in this regard will be a step forward in the overall nation-building process to the betterment of the country.

Mukhtiar Ali

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2021



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