It’s time to change the job needle

KARACHI:

Of Pakistan’s 225.2 million people, 137.3 million (61%) are in the 15 to 64 age group, according to data from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The above figures reflect that labor availability is not a problem for Pakistan, but labor employment is. The problem does not just revolve around unemployment in the labor force, but also includes the shortage of workers with the desired skills. While it is needless to discuss the grievances expressed by the common man about job creation, the fact that the government is responsible for taking the growth curve of employment to new heights cannot be ignored.

There are several reasons behind the current chaos in the job market and they need to be addressed little by little. Besides the fact that there is a dearth of employment opportunities, low wages and a miserable working environment also discourage workers. Finding gainful employment is a human right and it cannot be denied, however, having the desired skills and meeting the expectations of employers are also complementary traits that are expected of workers.

It is vital for businesses to understand the importance of cultivating trust between employees and employers. They must promote meritocracy and reward culture to encourage work. They must work to develop systems that attract trustworthy and engaged workers. This factor was unfortunately lacking in Pakistan.

It is the duty of our policymakers to thoroughly investigate the issue of unemployment, whether real or perceived, as the lack of jobs is not the only problem plaguing the Pakistani labor market. One of the main reasons for unemployment in Pakistan is the weak or lack of liaison between employers and labor providers. To solve the problem, the strict implementation of policies backed by effective laws and regulations will help the government for sure.

The annual population growth of 2%, which translates into the addition of almost 2.5 million people to the labor market each year, will theoretically become extremely unmanageable. However, the fact that women participate less in the labor market than men did not spoil the matter much. The aforementioned reason bothers the Pakistani government a little less than it should, according to statistics. The low participation of women is another blow to the Pakistani economy.

The Labor Force Survey (2018-2019), recently released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), found that Pakistan had 77.4 million men and 76.1 million women of working age. , or a total of 153.5 million potential workers.

Much of the workforce, nearly 61.3%, resides in rural areas while 38.6% are from urban areas of the country, according to the survey. The rural labor force has an unemployment rate of 6.4%, which is less than 7.9% of the urban labor force. The prime state of agriculture forces the Pakistani agro-economy to rely heavily on manual labor, creating a large number of jobs in the agricultural sector while the urban workforce continues to suffer.

Truth be told, the proportion of unemployment in rural (6.4%) and urban (7.9%) areas is relatively high compared to growing economies, maintaining Pakistan’s overall unemployment rate at 6.9 % in 2018-2019.

In recent years, data from the Labor Force Survey (LFS) have shown that the unemployment rate has hovered between 5% and 6% and has now passed the upper limit to 6.9 %.

The unemployment rate of 6.9% in 2018-19 raises fears of a further worsening of the unemployment situation in the years to come, because the blockages and layoffs induced by Covid-19 would be reflected partially in 2019-2020 and completely in the 2020-2021 figures.

To harness the available potential of our workforce, accelerating learning and training programs is absolutely necessary and this can be achieved by reorienting our spending priorities. In fiscal year 2018-2019, 97.155 billion rupees was spent on business and education services in Pakistan, which is estimated to be around 2.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the fiscal year. 19.

While aiming to reduce the gaps between the required and available labor pool, the restructuring of technical and vocational education is a convincing case. Sustainable economic growth and a higher employment rate can only be achieved by revising upwards the budget allocated to non-university education as well as targeted and results-oriented spending.

In addition to the National Commission for Vocational Training (NAVTTC) and the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA), the creation of many other bodies is now inevitable for the conversion of unskilled labor. in semi-qualified and fully qualified people. This will boost the production of our local industries and also improve the demand for our workers in foreign markets.

It is time for policy makers to come up with a long term solution to this problem that is in the best interests of the country, regardless of their political affiliations.

The writer is a mechanical engineer and is pursuing a master’s degree

Posted in The Express Tribune, December 20e, 2021.

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