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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Combating Brain Drain for Pakistan’s Prosperous Future

In the face of a concerning brain drain phenomenon, Pakistan stands at a critical juncture in safeguarding its future development. As skilled and talented individuals seek opportunities abroad, policymakers and leaders must take swift action to attract and retain this invaluable human capital.

The workforce of Pakistan is a crucial component of the country’s economy and plays a vital role in its development. Each year, a significant number of young graduates enter the job market, contributing to the workforce’s size and diversity. In order to provide an accurate overview, let’s examine the latest available data and explore the job opportunities and domestic demand in Pakistan.

Every year, Pakistan witnesses a substantial influx of young graduates into the job market. According to the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, in 2020, approximately 500,000 students graduated from universities across the country. The current figures are estimated around 1.5 million or above. This figure represents the large pool of educated individuals actively seeking employment opportunities.

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Understanding the matter better

Information Technology (IT): Pakistan’s IT sector has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years. The country has a talented pool of software engineers, developers, and IT professionals. This sector provides numerous job opportunities, particularly in software development, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. The rise of freelancing platforms has also opened doors for remote work, allowing young graduates to access global job markets.

Telecommunications: With an increasing number of mobile users, the telecommunications sector is expanding rapidly. This growth leads to a demand for skilled professionals in areas such as network infrastructure, customer support, and sales. Additionally, the emergence of 5G technology offers new avenues for employment and innovation.

Manufacturing and Industrial Sector: Pakistan’s manufacturing sector contributes significantly to the country’s economy. Graduates with engineering, technical, and management backgrounds can find employment in industries such as textiles, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and construction. The government’s focus on promoting industrial development further enhances the potential for job creation in this sector.

Agriculture and Agribusiness: Pakistan is an agrarian economy, with agriculture being a primary source of employment. Young graduates can explore opportunities in agricultural research, farm management, food processing, and agribusiness. The growing demand for organic products and the adoption of modern farming techniques present avenues for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Banking and Finance: The financial sector in Pakistan continues to expand, offering job opportunities for graduates with backgrounds in finance, accounting, and economics. Banks, financial institutions, and insurance companies provide positions in areas such as risk management, investment analysis, and banking operations.

Healthcare and Pharmaceutical: The healthcare sector in Pakistan is undergoing significant development, leading to increased demand for healthcare professionals. Graduates in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and related fields can find opportunities in hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, and research institutions.

Despite the sizeable number of graduates entering the job market, Pakistan still faces challenges in matching this supply with adequate job opportunities. However, various sectors show promise for employment growth and present potential career paths for these graduates.

While these sectors highlight potential job opportunities, it is crucial to consider the domestic demand for labor. Pakistan has a rapidly growing population, with a current estimate of over 220 million people. This substantial population creates a constant demand for goods, services, and infrastructure development, resulting in ongoing job requirements across various sectors.

Furthermore, Pakistan’s government has prioritized initiatives such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Program to boost employment and enhance skills training. These efforts aim to bridge the gap between job seekers and available opportunities, promoting economic growth and reducing unemployment rates.

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However, planners and policymakers need to address the job market and related issues. The growth rate of the population, which is almost the highest in the region. The estimated population has reached around 250 million. On the other hand, Economic growth has been reduced sharply. When the GDP growth is less than population growth, it is considered negative. The industrial sector suffered a lot due to irrational taxes and high utility costs. The law and order situation has also been impacted adversely. Political uncertainty and economic crises have hit hard on the job market.

According to a recent article published in Express Tribune dated 14 July 2023, in the last five years, a whopping 2.75 million youth left the country. According to the official document, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, more than 1.2 young people went overseas for employment during the tenure of the current coalition government. Experts attribute the brain drain to uncertain economic conditions, rising inflation, and unemployment. They suggest that this phenomenon was not restricted to any one or a particular region of the country.

It is quite worrisome for the nation if, highly skilled individuals leave the country, the future is challenged. Policymakers, and planners, must introduce policy measures to attract talent. Being lived in China, for a long, and expert on China, I have witnessed the role of youth in Chinese rapid developments. Even, the country has attracted overseas Chinese to contribute to the development of the nation. A similar approach existed in India that Overseas Indians are sharing heavily in the development of their country. Attractive policies must be introduced to attract overseas Pakistanis, especially the wealthy and experienced ones.

Our approach should be above party politics, institutional interests, or personnel gains. We own a responsibility to transform this country into a better place to live for the next generations.


Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com). 

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.