Young engineers, resumes in hand, swarmed over the stalls set up by different Pakistani and multi-national companies, who were not only accepting job applications but also conducting interviews and tests in Hall Six of the city's Expo Centre on Saturday.
The hall was full of hundreds of engineers, both freshly graduated and experienced, who had come to Karachi from across Sindh to attend a job fair organised by the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).
The event, inaugurated by Pakistan's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Asif Durrani, attracted 20 foreign and 24 local companies engaged in construction, oil and gas, water treatment and computer engineering. Various engineering universities from all over the country also participated in the fair, with their students presenting their projects to the visitors.
"We could not even have imagined such a response to the fair from the youngsters," remarked PEC chairperson Syed Abdul Qadir Shah. Pleased with the fair's success, he was also worried by the number of engineers who showed up in search of a job. "Mega-projects are the only solution to the flood of unemployment in the country," he told The Express Tribune. "We have only invited those companies that are willing to provide jobs to Pakistan's engineers, and most of them are from the UAE."
Shah explained that not only did the fair provide the chance for engineers to find jobs, but it also served to train fresh graduates about the process of recruitment in multi-national corporations. He added that the PEC was planning to expand the fair to other cities and would conduct an event every six months.
Employees from the companies' human resources departments were busy obtaining resumes from the engineers, while others took interviews.
"We had planned to conduct interviews on the spot but there were so many applicants that it was impossible," said Ghulam Mujtaba Lakhwera, the administrative and security head of Pak Oasis Industries, telling The Express Tribune that they have received over 8,000 applications. "We will scrutinise the applications now, and then call them for interviews." Lakhwera too was worried by the unemployment visible at the fair, but was also thankful for the opportunity provided by the PEC.
Meanwhile, participants highlighted the need for the government and the PEC to jointly organise such fairs from time to time, inviting companies in all fields from all over the world.
"Such events will instil hope in the depressed and unemployed youth, and will draw them away from criminal activities," said Roheel Nawaz, an assistant signals telecom engineer at Pakistan Railways, who came to the fair with his colleague Umar Ahmed and dropped off his resume at the counters of three multi-national companies. "Our jobs are good, but we want to go from good to better."
Fahadullah, a graduate from Mehran University of Engineering and Technology's industrial engineering and management department, urged the PEC to invite companies involved in metallurgy and fast-moving consumer goods in future fairs.
"UAE-based companies mostly hire engineers with seven to 10 years of experience, but they should also give a chance to fresh graduates," he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2014.