Investing in human capital is a nation’s most strategic and promising investment. If the youth of a country is given access to lucrative employment opportunities, quality education, health care, and marketable skills, they can change the destiny of their country.
Thus, Germany, Singapore, China, South Korea, and Malaysia stand out for having achieved miraculous economic progress by investing in their human resources and streamlining education, especially technical education.
Youth bulge in Pakistan: boom or bust?
Being the fifth most populous and one of the youngest countries globally (second youngest in South Asia after Afghanistan), Pakistan in the 21st century is facing a key challenge of demographic dividend, a youth bulge. More than 60 percent of the population is below the age of 30 years which is an asset. However, unless this demographic dividend is synergized positively and leveraged to foster national interest, Pakistan will lag far behind its neighbors and unable to meet the SDGs agenda.
At present, the Human Development Indices for Pakistani youth stand at an abysmal level. Approximately 30 percent of the youth in Pakistan is uneducated, and 77 percent leave their education to work for financial reasons. Pakistan’s public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP is estimated at 2.3 percent in 2019-20, which is the lowest in the region.
Compared to international benchmarks, the allocated budget for education is also among the lowest of agreed targets of 15-20 percent of the total budget and 4 percent of GDP. According to the Human Development Report, 2020, Pakistan ranked 154 out of 189 countries in UNDP countries.
Additionally, youth unemployment rate stands at 5.79 percent; young Pakistani women, in particular, have low labor force participation rates (24 percent) and experience higher unemployment (9.1 percent).
Hurdles in synergizing the youth
Youth Development schemes in Pakistan were hit after the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment in 2010, which altered the national governance framework for youth education structurally and substantially by becoming a provincial subject.
The result has been a mixed bag of challenges, opportunities, and uneven delivery. Duplicate, divergent, and often uncoordinated efforts have produced arguments against the efficacy of devolution as a governance model for achieving optimal success in cross-cutting social sector domains such as youth, education, health, culture, and women.
Dawn of youth development and empowerment policies
The 2018 general elections in Pakistan were seen as a game-changer for the country, with an unprecedented registered youth vote bank estimated at 44 percent of the electorate.
Finally, more youth development initiatives came to the forefront. Among these, a recent prominent initiative is the Kamyab Jawan-National Youth Development Program (2019-2023), launched by the federal government with support from several UN agencies and other donors.
The program addresses six prime areas for federal-provincial collaboration: economic empowerment, social protection, health and well-being, youth-focused institutional reforms, and mainstreaming marginalized youth.
Scope of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) provides the shortest and swiftest path for productive youth employment. Globally, countries like Germany, UK, Australia,
and many others have effectively utilized their TVET sector to maintain competitiveness in there manufacturing sectors even in the face of the ever-growing Chinese presence.
Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Siemens, and Bosch are a few of the German company names we all have heard about. In the region, India launched the “Skill India” program in 2015, aiming to give skills to over 400 million youth by 2022.
In a recent piece published in the May 2021 Global Village Space issue, Dr. Nasir Khan, Executive Director NAVTTC, explained that an estimated 52 percent of the workforce in the US, 68 percent in the UK, 75 percent in Germany, 80 percent in Japan, and 96 percent in South Korea have undergone formal skill training. In comparison, less than 5 percent of people have undergone similar training in Pakistan.
TVET programs can be a viable precedent for Pakistan’s youth and allow the country to integrate its marginalized youth into the mainstream. It can offer diplomas and training at affordable costs. Unfortunately, though, for the last several years, Pakistan has spent less than Rs20 billion per annum, which is pennies given the number of young people in the country that need training.
TVET training is essential to create a specialized and productive workforce ready to take up jobs with professional abilities matching international standards. Studies show that employers prefer to hire people who already have the skills rather than training someone new due to the learning and time costs.
Vocational training can be best understood through the dynamics of the Triple Helix Model that forms a Government-Industry-Education nexus. The nexus operates to foster state-of-the-art development in the crucial sectors of the economy and allows individuals to become competitive and equipped with the right and relevant, up-to-date skills, which are essential to delivering sustainable growth and prosperity.
It is estimated that around 3 million skill training positions are needed in the country. Against this, only an estimated 400,000 seats are available in 3,740 institutes with 18,000 teachers in the formal TVET sector. Dr. Nasir Khan pointed out if 3 million youth were provided skills training — based on traditional training methods — it would require at least 45,000 more institutes and an additional 200,000 TVET teachers to be inducted into the system.
It is clear that given the poor involvement of all governments on this front, TVET training institutes are something that industry should also get involved in as ultimate beneficiaries of this higher-skilled labor.
Construction Technology Training Institute: Effective Youth Development
First established in 1986 as Construction Machinery Training Center (CMTC), with the assistance of the government of Japan and the Frontier Works Organization, CTTI has now established itself as an esteemed Technical, Vocational, and Information Communication Technology Training Institute. Over time, it has achieved milestones by introducing novel courses and diploma programs which have succeeded in attaining international accreditation through rapid up-gradation.
It is a national institute where students come from all provinces, and Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu, and Kashmir, as the seats are reserved on a quota basis. Up till now, 33,314
students have graduated in Diplomas of Associate Engineers and CTTI’s short courses. Its courses fall under five departments: Mechanical technology, Civil technology, Auto & Diesel technology, Quantity Survey technology, and Information Communication technology.
Three-year Diplomas are offered in each of these departments and each offer numerous shorter skill development courses ranging from three to six months. Trainees can specialize in a number of potential skills ranging from carpentry, welding, bricklaying/masonry work to electrical skills, AUTOCAD, graphic designing, and computer skills training.
Its work in the Information communication area, in particular, is laudatory as it gives first-rate IT education in the country, which is aimed at making Pakistan a hub for Data Science, Cloud Native Computing, Edge Computing, Augmented reality, and the Internet of Things in this evolving digital era.
This is particularly important as the government has also set a goal for the country to increase its IT exports and has given incentives to the industry to achieve this. CTTI has also made an effort to involve marginalized youth in the jobs market by giving them training skills.
The Institute is equipped with the latest training equipment, state-of-the-art laboratories, and 92 x pieces of all categories of earthmoving equipment and Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) Machines. CTTI holds qualified, competent, and committed faculty to train and impart instructions to the students.
The selection of students is made strictly on merit, and students graduated from CTTI hold very prestigious appointment /slots at national and international levels. Around 2,244 students have been employed in different National and International Companies during the last three years.
CTTI has conducted courses in collaboration with both international and local partners, including Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Korea International Cooperation
Agency (KOICA), Toyota Indus Motors, National Vocational Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC), Punjab Board of Technical Education (PBTE), National Training Bureau (NTB),
and National University of Technology (NUTECH).
The Institute is a living example of bilateral and even trilateral cooperation that can be done in such areas as Pakistan, Japan, and Korea through a win-win situation. The youth enrolled in this institution are equipped with state-of-the-art technical skills in the manufacturing sector through courses designed by Japanese and Korean educationalists. As a result, they are well equipped to understand the needs of Pakistan’s
Alongside technical education, CTTI also stresses students’ professional grooming and development as well as an understanding of work ethics, occupational health and safety
environment, modern trends in technology, computers, and extra-curricular activities. Thus, it has Plant Equipment, Live Models, Cutaways Model, Driving Trainer Simulator, Computer Labs, Library, Survey Equipment, Editing / Dubbing Equipment, Medical Centre, Hostel Facilities, Tennis & Squash Court, Basketball, football, volleyball, and Cricket Ground.
Industry and Training Synergies
Any training institute is stronger when it has local industry linkages that can help to recruit its graduates; in this regard, CTTI is very proactive and has created good links with industry. It has also planned collaborations with national companies like Hashoo Group, Toyota Indus Motors, and Technology Upgradation & Skill Development Company (TUSC). CTTI and Hashoo Group are joining hands to start Hospitality and Information Technology-related courses with accreditation of Sheffield Hallam University & Business School (SHU), UK.
2-years Diploma will be offered in Hospitality Management with the option of 3rd year at SHU, UK, which will convert this Diploma into BS. In addition, short courses certifications
in Artificial Intelligence (AI), BlockChain, Robotics, and Cyber Security will also be offered at the Information Communication Technology Department of CTTI in collaboration with
Auto Body & Paint Shop was established at CTTI by Toyota Indus Motors, the first out-of-the-industry plant in Pakistan. This facility will offer an additional opportunity to
the students of CTTI to gain expertise in Auto Body & Paint Technology. CTTI is planning to expand its campuses to all provinces of Pakistan, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir &
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Since its establishment, CTTI has set high standards in technical and vocational education, and its graduates have created a good reputation where they have gone to work. For any institute, ultimately, this is the long-term test of its achievements. Compared to our competitors, Pakistan has very low per capita workforce productivity. With per capita productivity half that of China and even lagging India by 25 percentage points, ultimately, for our businesses to be competitive, it requires that human capacity be improved for the long run.
Pakistan needs thousands of more institutes to be set up to give such training opportunities, given the limited resources of the government – this is a torch that can be picked up by corporates as part of their Corporate social responsibility efforts.
Hadia Mukhtar is a Pakistani geopolitical analyst with a keen interest in international
relations. Currently she is working as an Sub-Editor at GVS magazine and collaborating
with the GVS International Desk. She holds a graduate degree in Literature in English from
the University of Karachi. She can be reached at email@example.com