March 28, 2019: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has urged upon the government to take serious notice of the country’s human capital deficiency by focusing on re-skilling, digitization, and technological advancements to gain a competitive advantage in next phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“CPEC is expected to generate significant avenues of employment for the domestic labor force, especially after the establishment of the proposed Special Economic Zones (SEZs). However, as this development takes shape, the job requirements would gradually become more demanding,” the second quarterly report 2018-19 on “The State of Economy” published by the SBP said.
The report stressed the need to improving the level of human capital in the economy to ensure that both the existing and the incoming labor force is skilled enough to meet the growing technical requirements of the evolving nature of work.
The report proposed that a significant overhaul of the education system of the country is required to address the dearth of adequately skilled graduates entering the labor force.
The effectiveness of the primary education needs to be enhanced significantly in order to improve the level of knowledge-absorption and increasing the level of enrollment in schools. Of equal importance is the need for revising the curriculum of academic institutions to better reflect the needs of current and future occupations.
Focus on vocational and skills training of the work force is critical in ensuring that the employability levels of the domestic workers remains intact, or ideally increase, during the transitional stage of job transformation and technical advancement.
It added that a welcome development in this regard is that the Chinese firms are already involved in technical skill building of the Pakistani youth to enable them to be prepared for work under the CPEC programmes.
This includes emphasis on vocational training (such as the construction of Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute at Gwadar), scholarships and exchange programmes for university and college students as mentioned in the Joint-Statement, and collaborative efforts with Pakistani technological platforms (such as the AliBaba eFounders Fellowship programme with NIC Karachi).
It added that an encouragement development is that the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTCC) of Pakistan is in the process of introducing officially defined skill-set categorizations to help improve the placement and skill matching in the domestic labor market. Under the revised National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVQF), an assessment criterion is being developed to classify workers according to skill-sets and to facilitate their gradual promotion to higher levels.
On the technology front, the report said that Digital Pakistan Policy released last year includes an optimistic road-map for the enhancement of human capital via expansion of digitization in the country. Emphasis on digital and financial literacy and inclusion would be vital to enable both individuals and businesses to take advantage of the ICT in e-commerce, Fintech and BPO segments of the market.
Finally, a strong focus on higher-level education pertaining to the complementary services sector (such as accountancy, consultancy, legal, etc.) would be needed so that the domestic labour force can fulfil the associated requirements of new industries enacted under the proposed SEZs, the report added.