Punjab Group of Colleges (PGC) has established a new partnership with Microsoft and has launched a Digital Skills Initiative in Pakistan to provide Punjab College educators and students onboard to Future Ready Skills and Learn Platform. The initiative aims to reimagine the education landscape, empower the next generation of students and bridge the gap between knowledge and employability.
Punjab Group of Colleges’ academic alliance with Microsoft is aimed to enable the next generation of computer science / IT experts, to leverage state-of-the-art technologies including but not limited to, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Security, Business Applications, Office Automation / Productivity tools, etc. Over 25,000 students and educators of Punjab Group of Colleges across Pakistan will have access to all the learning resources and tools through platforms like Microsoft Learn for Educators, Microsoft Showcase Schools Program, and Microsoft Learn for Students with free Fundamental Skills Certifications.
The obvious motivation behind this initiative is probably the fact that Pakistan produces about 445,000 university graduates and 25,000–30,000 computer science graduates per year and most of them require industry skills. In process of producing this many graduates, universities sacrifice the quality of education delivered to them that they can use in industry and benefit their employer, instead employers have to train the graduates themself in order to get some services from them. Mudassar Farooq; Group Chief Technology Officer Punjab Group of Colleges expressed his views and said:
“Today just acquiring a degree is not enough. 80 percent of employers believe that graduates do not arrive fully equipped with work-ready skills. We at Punjab Group of Colleges understand that to remain relevant and in demand, we must innovate to keep pace with an ever-changing world and provide the right curriculum and skills-building resources to ensure students are prepared now for the future”
Building an engaged and digitally skilled workforce enables productivity growth which results in more and better jobs for the current workforce, creating more public and private investment in education and training systems, and, in turn, increasing the employability and productivity of the current and future workforce. Jibran Jamshad, Country Education Lead Microsoft for Pakistan, Lebanon, and Jordan said while inaugurating the initiative that:
“As digital transformation accelerates across industries, digital skills are more important than ever, almost every job requires some level of digital fluency. To drive the best employability outcomes in today’s digital economy, colleges and universities need to ensure their students develop the right 21st-century skills and knowledge for their career of choice after graduation. Our longstanding partnership with Punjab Group of Colleges comes in line with our commitment to provide the education sector in Pakistan with the resources and tools needed to build the next-generation workforce and allow students and educators to do more with less”.
Pakistan produces a sheer number of graduates today. Rapid population growth and a youthful population, coupled with a limited increase in jobs, mean that unemployment and underemployment will continue to remain serious social problems in Pakistan. Studies also indicate that employment creation in the country continues to be affected by a variety of unaddressed challenges related to private investment, labor laws, and economic development.
The contents of the curricula, assessment schemes, and students’ poor language and communication skills have also been identified as areas for improvement. Though the Higher Education Commission has standardized the curricula for most university education, the delivery of content remains a severe challenge. In times like these, more emphasis will and should be given to practical experience as part of the training modalities adopted by universities.