While the global economy remains in a rather lackluster phase, university graduates seeking well-paying jobs continue to be on the rise. This has not only led to fierce competition for limited vacancies around the globe, it has also somewhat added to the unemployment rate. More and more graduates are finding it hard to find decent jobs despite have remarkable credentials and respected degrees. But as university graduates increase in number, the skilled workforce around the world continues to shrink. This is partly due to rapid automation in the industrial sector and partly because no one is really opting for vocational trainings that lead to several high-paying jobs.
The stats are staggering. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce estimated that there were over 30 million jobs that paid an average of $55,000 a year but did not require a bachelor’s degree.
The case is similar in Pakistan. Universities are brimming with high-hoping students, but finding a job is still hard. Although a lot of credit for Pakistani students’ lack of interest in vocational training has to do with an inclination towards jobs that offer social status, a part of blame has to be put on inadequate facilities for such training and general lack of awareness.
Operations of traditional jobs like nursing, auto mechanics, electricians and lathe operators are being constantly evolved by technological advancements and the room for unskilled labor is shrinking by the day.
A case in point is the auto industry. Auto mechanics of the olden days are finding it increasingly hard to understand complex technologies car manufacturers are putting in place these days. The traditional knowhow just isn’t cutting it anymore. Yet the amount of cars on the country’s roads keeps on rising and so does the need for skilled mechanics who understand modern car systems. And a lot of money can be made.
Moreover, the demand isn’t any less in other industries where unskilled labor is being rapidly replaced by skilled hands that can augment productivity spearheaded by modern machinery. Besides, companies are finding it less costly to hire resources with hands-on experience of a skill rather than investing months and money on on-the-job learning of employees. Training give a natural edge to job applicants as they possess prior knowledge needed to work in a field.
The world is realizing the rising need fast. An example is the state of California recently announcing a spending of $200 million to encourage more students to earn a vocational certificate in place of a bachelor’s degree.
The calls for a greater emphasis on vocations training are also being heard in Pakistan, with Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) President Dr Murtaza Mughal urging the government to focus its energies on promoting vocational training and cottage industry. Dr Mughal said uplift of cottage industry, women empowerment and technical education was inevitable to help the country steer away from economic problems. He suggested that technical training institutes and cottage industry clusters should be set up every 500 kilometers along CPEC in order to boost economy and provide resources for the mega project.
In line with global shifts in the labor market, the government should seriously consider a stronger focus on vocational training. Parents and students must also realize that having vocational training adds to the knowledge and skills of an individual and a training might come in handy when prospects of other jobs become hazy.