ISLAMABAD: He waited patiently as they sifted through the four educational documents he had acquired over the past two decades.
Then they picked up his resume. He cleared the sweat off his forehead. The air conditioner was on, but it was doing nothing for him. Finally, one interviewer looked up and said the words he had heard many times before. “Your qualifications do not match our job requirement.” Farooq Qureshi, 25, thanked them and left.
Almost every day in Islamabad, thousands of job seekers brace themselves for rejections during interviews. Unemployment is rampant not only in the capital city, but throughout the country as well. A recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that some 2.04 million youth (aged between 15-29) were unemployed in Pakistan.
Qureshi did his Masters in Business Administration from Bahria University in August 2008. Almost two years later, he has still not managed to find an employer who would hire him. He has heard just about every kind of rejection during his search for a job. “Your internship experience is not enough to qualify for this specific post,” one employer told him. “You don’t have any solid references,” another said. “For this job, it’s not your qualification that matters, but your looks,” another said bluntly.
“I have even contemplated suicide and turning to crime,” Qureshi said, “My parents have spent so much money on my education and it worries me that I am still dependant on them.”
Raheela Ghulam, 27, who mastered in Social Sciences from Allama Iqbal Open University in 2004, said she tried to get a part time job at various public and private organisations, but failed. “My father passed away… I tried to get a job during my studies as well so I could bear our household expenses, but I couldn’t succeed,” she said.
Ghulam feels that organisations prefer male candidates, for a number of reasons. “Interviewers have told me that men stay longer with the organisation,” she said. “They said females either get married or have issues staying for long hours at work.”
Students from different universities in Islamabad, including the National University of Modern Languages, Fatima Jinnah and Arid Agriculture University, said they were “very worried” about getting jobs. “Most of us cannot even find an internship. How will we get jobs?” one student said.
Ahsan Islam, who in his penultimate year of study at a university in Satellite Town, Rawalpindi added, “Whenever I try for an internship, they say the posts are already full or they seek references from influential people,” he said.
The government has said it is doing its bit to help the youth get relevant internship experience. “The ministry through the National Internship Program (NIP) has provided jobs to more than 52,000 post graduates across Pakistan,” said Arif Malik, spokesperson for the Ministry of Youth Affairs, while talking to The Express Tribune. “We are also planning to organise job fairs throughout Pakistan to help students meet their prospective employers.
Youngsters who are finding difficulty in getting jobs should visit our website and take guidance from there.” Malik added, “Some 25 per cent of all the students that complete their postgraduate education in Pakistan get jobs through NIP, 25 per cent set up their own businesses, 25 per cent go abroad for further studies and the remaining 25 per cent are not efficient and fail to qualify for jobs.”