“Education is the key to the future of any country.” We hear these words numerous times a day, and it’s not untrue, at all. Educated people get higher wages and unemployment rate among them remains low. It is also true that the countries which are far ahead in terms of educated population, grow and develop faster and innovate more than those with lesser literacy rates.
If a student aspires to embark on a rewarding career, then merely attending a college is not enough; one should have to study the right subjects especially keeping in view the labour market demand. At this critical juncture in our history, our nation stands at a crossroads. Soaring unemployment, impractical business regulations, bludgeoning national debt and low-quality education are making our nation weaker with every passing moment.
“Unfortunately, very few governments think about youth unemployment when they are drawing up their national plans.”
Pakistan has an Agri-based economy with a very well developed agriculture sector. Majority of the population, directly or indirectly, is dependent on this sector. It contributes about 24 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounts for half of the employed labour force and is the largest source of foreign exchange earnings. But, with the advent of new technologies and other innovative methods, the agriculture sector is presently under the process of mechanization. Labour is being replaced by machines leaving more and more people jobless. Moreover, the opportunities for their reemployment are very few.
The population of Pakistan is growing at a rate of 2.1 percent per annum, which is quite alarming especially when we have limited resources to feed such a huge number of people. Moreover, nearly two million individuals enter the job market every year. But, a big chunk of these would-be workers does not have the requisite education and technical skills. Illiterate youth has become a bane for the country. It is also a fact that due to the ineptness of the government, employment opportunities for even the educated people remain scant even today.
The future of Pakistan is dependent on our youth and the quality of education, employment opportunities, economic conditions, we provide them. In addition to this, political stability and continuity in government policies are also vital in this regard. At present, Pakistan is tangled in a multi-tier educational system which is functioning with all its pros and cons. By design our education system is flawed and it seems that it has been made elsewhere. Today, there are numerous educational institutions in Pakistan with implicit demarcation of those for elite and for common people. More distressing is the fact that even the quality of education these institutions impart to their students isn’t purposeful and market-oriented. These institutions are mere moneymaking establishments, though they claim to be ‘non-profit’ ones. This is a serious problem which needs to be solved at the earliest.
We often observe that after completing the higher education, only a fewer students could get the white-collar jobs. This means every year thousands of new graduates are added up in the blue-collar proletariat. This leads to the enigma of brain drain where highly-educated individuals go to the foreign lands in search of better future. Those who cannot afford the huge immigration expenses fall prey to various psychological ills and some of them might fall into the hands of smugglers, terrorists and drug-traffickers whereas a huge chunk of this frustrated youth finds ‘refuge’ in drug addiction, violence, theft etc. Political instability in the country negates any chance of bringing in the foreign investment — the backbone of a country’s economy. Thus a number of engineers, IT experts and M. Phil and PhD degree-holders are being wasted only due to the employment system that has gone to dogs. The ratio of suicides for domestic reasons has also been increasing without any respite.
The élan of our energetic youth is facing a future they could have never wanted to embark on. However, there are numerous opportunities to avoid this looming fiasco and meliorating the situation in the best interest of our country. The fundamental issue we have to tackle first is to avoid brain drain from Pakistan. Character-building is one of the most important requirements if we want to avail our youth as an asset. Our youth must recognise its talent and must strive to achieve integrity and character because the individuals blessed with these traits are the true builders of the state.
To get the maximum benefit from the abilities and talents our youths possess, the government must draw up robust policies and adopt a pragmatic approach. It should introduce reforms in educational sector so that the would-be new blood to the job market may fulfil all what employers look for in the prospective employees. Another way is to promote youth entrepreneurship. Young people are energetic and productive as well as full of ambitions to achieve big. They’re able to take challenges on and have the power to realize their dreams. This programme can also generate ample employment opportunities. Micro-financing could be a tool to attract youth to cash in their ambitions and skills. Government must grant soft loans to such individuals.
In a nutshell, the government should begin schemes to grant scholarships to the gifted youth of the country, and should try to create new jobs. Nepotism, undue influence, references and other corrupt practices must be curbed.
These highly educated unemployed young men and women can become the strength of our country, if we use them prudently.