The universities of Pakistan are turning out graduates like never before, and whatever the deficiencies in the higher education system might be, there is an increasing pool of educated young people coming into the job market — but will there be jobs for them? This being the season of convocations when universities award degrees and honour their alumni, it is of note that there is a change in the aspirations and intentions of graduates. Hitherto, the drive was to find a secure job in the corporate sector, but out of almost 1,300 graduates from the Institute of Business Management and the Institute of Business Administration (both based in Karachi) about a quarter of them said when polled that they were interested in setting up their own businesses.
It is too early to say how this will play out, but if the trend is replicated year on year, it will impact upon the economy as these young entrepreneurs become job and wealth creators in their own right, rather than following traditional career paths. Universities, colleges and leading business schools are adapting to the changing environment, offering modules in entrepreneurship as a springboard for students. But we need more than entrepreneurs — we need engineers as well and both the Namal College and the National University of Science and Technology have ushered new batches of graduates into the world, but they all, entrepreneur or engineer, doctor or accountant, face an uncertain future.
Pakistan needs to hold on to this newly-educated generation, to provide the jobs that it needs to start in life, but with the economy stagnant, their prospects are far from rosy. They cannot be blamed if they seek employment abroad, taking their qualifications elsewhere and leaving Pakistan with a national skills deficit. The announcement at Aga Khan University on December 19 that it planned to set up seven new graduate schools for the liberal arts was on the one hand wonderful news, but on the other, leaves us wondering where all these bright young things of the future are going to find work.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2013.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ