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August 24, 2019

Innovative skill development key to lucrative employment


August 24, 2019

LAHORE: Public sector institutes should emulate the successful skill development organisations in Sindh and Punjab that have ensured lucrative employment for their graduates.

One such organisation - Aman foundation in Karachi is rolling out thousands of graduates per year and all of them are gainfully employed. They in fact have bright prospects of scaling up in their career.

It is because a solid base was provided to them on modern equipment used by industries world over. Similarly, the Punjab Skill Development Fund (PSDF), though a public sector entity, provides funds to the skill training institutes in Punjab.

It chooses skills that are sure to provide livelihood to its graduates. It then asks relevant public/private sector organisations to provide training according to the curriculum provided by them.

Generally, the public sector institutes impart low grade skills that may help the recipient find a job, but the remunerations may be very low. With the low income they earn, their families continue to live a little above poverty line.

Another problem with government skill training institutes is that at the time the institute is established, latest machines and equipment are installed; however, it soon becomes obsolete and is not updated for ages.

Since the equipments are rarely upgraded, the students getting training on outdated equipment cannot handle modern machines when they seek jobs in the private sector.

The approach of Aman Foundation and PSDF is different. The former is imparting skills on its state of art vocational institute. The modern training institute has been established from the seed money provided by a major donor.

The foundation also imparted training to the students from this seed money until it dried out. Now it is dependent on regular donations to run its courses.

The institute hires highly qualified teachers and trainers who provide training in 12 disciplines. Its automobile section for instance houses four different types of cars.

Each is fully dismantled and every part is separated and assembled by each student from 8am to 4pm during the six months course. There is a simulator that makes different sounds similar to ones made when cars develop faults.

They are trained to identify faults through this simulator. There are different paints, car electronic and denting departments all donated by the multinational car manufacturers.

There is dearth of good car mechanics in the country. The graduates easily find jobs both in private workshops and in factories of car manufacturers. Three or four students can even join hands to establish a good workshop anywhere in the country.

A leading textile house also helped establish a state of art stitching unit. The machines at the institute are the same machines that are operated at the textile house.

In fact that textile house gave employment to the first batch of 300 girls who graduated from the institute. Even now every batch that graduates finds lucrative employment in a number of stitching units established all over Karachi.

Since PSDF has no skill training institute of its own, it chooses the skills carefully to ensure better outcomes. In 97 percent of the cases it provides funds to private sector to impart training suggested by it.

A very innovative idea was to prepare skilled workforce for hospitality industry outside Pakistan. The PSDF officials met with the administration of Rotana Atlantis that runs a chain of hotels under this brand name in the Middle East.

It received 2,000 resumes advertised for the training programme that was to be conducted by a renowned Pakistani five star hotel chain. The PSDF shortlisted 1,000 candidates for further interview.

Head of the corporate HR and general manager Rotana visited Lahore/Islamabad that approved 170 candidates for training. The students were trained in two batches one getting three-month training in housekeeping and other as waiter and communication effectiveness.

All of them got jobs in 4-5 star hotels of which 60 percent were hired by Rotana. The retention rate in Rotana after 6 months was 98 percent. Now more Middle Eastern hotel chains are asking for trained human resource in hospitality trade.

The concept of Uber Rickshaw was floated by PSDF and besides imparting driving skills; the internet skills were also imparted for drivers with minimum qualification of matriculation.

The graduates were facilitated with rickshaw loans by Apna Microfinance Bank. Now we see thousands of Uber Rickshaws on Lahore streets with each driver earning over Rs35,000/month in 12 hour shifts.