Ali and Shahid are unemployed graduates from LUMS and IBA, respectively, who cannot find jobs at companies they want to work for as these companies have increasingly started employing MBA students from a relatively new stream of private schools.
They are not alone. Their story is eerily familiar to many other bachelor degree holders as there are a dime a dozen in the Pakistani job market now. Mimicking the international credential inflation trend, the worth of the bachelors degree in Pakistan has dwindled to very little and at least a minimum masters degree is required for a decent job.
This is happening because bachelor degree holders turn to further studies when they cannot find work, and when they graduate, they are available in the market for the same amount as their undergraduate brethren, said Naveed Khan who heads the headhunting department of one of the largest human resource consultancy firms in Pakistan namely People.
“It’s a cost effective deal for companies who are getting a masters degree employee for the price of an undergraduate,” Khan said. He said that companies have now gotten used to graduate students doing jobs that would be optimal for an undergraduate.
We are a third world country and our education system leaves much to be desired, said Career Resourcing CEO Kamran Mustafa.
Pakistani scholar Kashif Mehmood, who has more degrees than you can shake a stick at, has a slightly different opinion on the situation and says that it is partly because jobs in the country used to be generalised. Employers are looking for more and more specialised fields when hiring which is why jobs are becoming more and more specialised instead of generic, said Mehmood who did a PhD in Business Administration and another in computer sciences from France and is currently teaching at Iqra University.
Even the popularity of brand name universities that offer bachelors degrees are waning. Their bachelors degrees usually got the students something but the situation has changed. According to CEO of Outsource Consultants, Zohaib Aslam says that, the three universities, CBM, IBA and Szabist are equal in terms of resources. “We get the best quality resources from the young pool at CBM with good extra curricular activity backgrounds. Most job placements are for CBM, Szabist and then Karachi University.
He added that the average starting pay for a bachelors student is 15,000 to 25,000 and for a masters student is 25,000 to 35,000.
Talking about the predicament where masters students are stuck doing jobs which are much lower than their qualifications, Aslam said, “In my point of view, having a further qualification like masters degree will always help a person grow which is eventually a key to further promotion in the similar field.
The worst part is that most HR experts are predicting an even bleaker future. “Employers will definitely encourage professionals and students to have a PhD degree in the near future,” said Aslam according to whom learning has no limits.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.