Human capacity building isn’t a new problem. Nor is it a problem restricted to any one specific country. Brain drain, job hopping and a generally icky attitude towards the monumental task of developing and retaining skilled resource for any economy, is a painpoint for every economy. So much work, such a great many challenges.
A recently published report by the World Bank projected that despite an increase in macroeconomic imbalances during the last fiscal year, Pakistan’s GDP growth rate will be 5.5 per cent and 5.8pc for 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively. The global lender suggested that Pakistan should continue with economic reforms and pursue policies to compete with global markets. For that to happen, our human resource needs to achieve the competence level required to compete at the international arena. And that is where the trouble starts.
There are nearly 200 HEC recognized universities in Pakistan, and hundreds of technical institutes affiliated with them. Each year more than 2 million students graduate from these institutions and enter the already swarming job market. In the IT sector, an approximate 10,000 graduates enter the brave new world to make or break the promise they envisioned.
At present, the unemployment rate is high, the star-studded promise of how cool a startup can be, the job-worker mismatch all compromise the productivity potential of the economy generating friction and frustration all around.
A recent report published in Dawn last year revealed that accounting/finance, sales/marketing and ICT sectors were considered top job creators. Students apply to these sectors in bulk; however, hardly 5 percent of the total applicants actually succeed in landing a decent job.
The Pakistan Society of Human Resource Management reveals that employee turnover rate is highest in the finance sector. It also has the highest premature turnover rate, where people leave before investing even six months of service. However, the finance sector offers more avenues for job mobility due to its growth, in terms of salary and benefits finance and manufacturing sectors are better pay masters.
According to an estimate, companies make workforce investments ranging from 20 to 70 percent of their overall operating expense. After investing so much, employer holds the right to ask for quantifiable metrics to assess the performance of HR spending.
On the other hand, availability of abundant human resource has empowered employers to dictate terms of their own and often flaunt labor laws. Employers hold students partially responsible for not making an effort to learn, and blame institutions for not developing the attitude of students towards professional life.
HR practitioner Naureen Awais says most of the fresh grads are unaware of their career path. “They want to be directed instead to creating their own ways,” she says. “There is no fast track to success, you need to be patient and persistent to become successful. Commitment to the organisation and perseverance is the key.”
Shazya Aamir says, “It’s a millennial thing; impatient, inconsistent and looking for shortcuts.” They [the fresh grads] are energetic but unaware of how to channelize their potential for their own benefit. “I also feel there is a lack of disconnect in what is being taught at colleges and what to actually expect in job life,” she points out.
Khushnood Aftab, the CEO of Viper Technologies, says the newly hired workforce has flexibility issues and lacks professionalism. They have unrealistic expectations, poor communication skills and lack commitment towards their job, says Aftab.
Unrealistic expectations can hardly be the problem at the student end. Hollywood and the web in general make every story an inspiring rags-to-riches piece that is relatable to everyone on the planet. But there are some that do make it that way.
Sumreen Faisal thinks fresh graduates are overconfident and looking for shortcut in life without having to go through the drill. They are not willing to make “the effort required to gain experience”, she adds.
Is the distance between the industry and academia so far? The need for stakeholders from all sides come together and have an open dialogue to devise policies that focus on capacity building across industries. It’s the quality that matters. And that’s the whole rationale behind TNS Campus Connections. More on this, coming up!