Pakistan produces about 445,000 university graduates and 25,000–30,000 computer science graduates per year. With this amount of graduates, Pakistan should have a huge tech industry and the corporate industry should be top-notch but in reality, it’s quite opposite. 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.
This Wednesday, the Government College University’s (GCU) Zoology department hosted a two-day international conference on “fisheries and aquaculture”. GCU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr. Asghar Zaidi identified a major problem that his institute has been facing regarding the quality of education provided to the students which apparently did not meet the industry requirements. Pressing an immediate concern for institutions is increasing the employability of their graduates.
“We’ve been informed by the industry that even if you send us your top graduates, we’ll have to teach them all over again,”
If we take a step, we would get to know that this issue is not only faced by GCU rather their education quality is one of the best in the country and considered one of the most prestigious institutions and literally, no university is producing up-to-mark and industry-ready graduates. This issue is not unknown to these universities but they for some reason don’t want anything to do about it.
Asghar Zaidi purposed a potential solution to the problem, he said that they must upskill their graduates in order for them to be useful in the industry in Pakistan and overseas. But this obviously is easier said than done as they have been teaching with the same methods for years and suddenly changing them from the root would be a challenge. Asghar started to take some steps and welcomed international participants to the conference, including Dr. John Sweetman, who has 40 years of experience in the field of aquaculture.
The Pakistani government, through its ministry of education as well as a ministry of youth affairs, is planning to improve the employment of university graduates over the next five years with specific targets of creating 10 million jobs for graduate students.
Today, one thing is sure easy access to lifetime jobs is no more possible. Intense competition, changing labor market dynamics, and shifting technologies, have all made it harder for jobs to remain stable and steady. However, the pressure to accommodate more and more students has become challenging for successive governments as they cannot (and should not) become the sole provider of employment opportunities – and indeed not when universities are yielding hundreds of thousands of students every year.
This challenge of employability has now thus become a political whirlwind rod, with the government attracting criticism for driving higher education growth regardless of local needs, industry insights, and labor market demands. What are some of the key reasons Pakistani graduate students have remained unemployable despite having university degrees? Do we not have enough jobs, or are the student numbers too high or skill levels insufficient to accommodate students in the mainstream economy?
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.
Universities are expected to design strategies that strengthen such links. With most of the universities now having an incubation center as well as an ORIC department, it is time that the lack of teaching methodologies can be substantiated with enhanced academia-industry linkages. Students should be able to work not after four years of their undergrad but right when they are in the first semester. With changing education landscape, this is precisely what Consuldents aim for; helping students get in with real-life industry experience while completing their studies.