A new policy document and a qualification framework launched by the government
Adequate supply of trained manpower, like technicians, engineers, and scientists can be a major tool for economic development of a country. Technical education needs to be relevant and in line with international standards so that trained manpower is available to the local industrial sector as well as for the world labour market.
Pakistan Labour Force Survey 2012-13 estimates the total labour force in Pakistan at 59.74 million whereas the labour force growth rate in the country was recorded at 3.4 per cent and unemployment rate at 6 per cent. The number of registered workers working abroad was 5.7 million, who were sending an estimated 11.2 billion dollars till 2012-13.
Technical education has been a challenge for the governments as despite the presence of public sector institutions to produce skilled labour, there is always shortage of trained manpower.
The government of Pakistan launched the first-ever National Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policy document on March 4, 2015.
Besides, a National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVQF) with an objective to improve the quality of skill trainings in the country was also launched on the occasion of national conference on TVET Reform organised by the National Vocational & Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) of Pakistan. It is the apex body at the centre to regulate, facilitate and provide policy direction in Vocational & Technical Training.
The Technical and Vocational Education and Training Programme is funded by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is being implemented by a German company, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, in close collaboration with the Commission.
According to NAVTTC sources, there are 1,647 vocational education and training institutes in Pakistan with an enrolment of 315,000 youth, as against the national demand of the trained graduates of 950,000. This indicates the need to further expand network of the institutions.
At present, the local workforce is mainly engaged in agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector (43.7 per cent) mostly in rural areas, whereas the other important sectors employing the workforce are industrial manufacturing and services sectors. Interestingly, most of the workers in Pakistan are employed in the informal sector, which is over 70 per cent. It is estimated that only 8 per cent of workers receive training, much of which is not certificated.
The TVET policy and the National Vocational Qualifications Framework is expected to provide a basis for recognition of qualifications at national and international levels.
The policy provides guidelines for recognition of prior learning since more than 70 per cent of the labour force is trained in the informal sector in Pakistan. Although the State Minister for the Ministry of Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education, Engr. Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman has shown commitment of the federal government to implement the TVET policy and NVQF in letter and spirit, it is yet to be seen how these two instruments will create a paradigm shift in the TVET delivery system. That is because the entire implementation mechanism would be carried out by the provincial governments.
The importance of trained overseas Pakistanis sending remittances cannot be overstated. The latest data of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) indicates that overseas Pakistani workers remittances grew to 11.75 billion dollars in the first eight months (July to February) of the current fiscal year, indicating 14.6 per cent growth against the previous year’s data of the same period.
The role of the private sector is also an important element of this policy as Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is an in-built mechanism of the policy.
Under the policy, creation of Pakistan Skills Partnership (PSP), a national body for private sector’s involvement has been proposed. Similarly, another body, Pakistan National Vocational Qualification and Quality Assurance Organisation has also been proposed to be a national technical body for devising TVET core standards.
Neither the PSP nor the PNVQ Organisation will provide the training directly. The provincial TEVTAs will be responsible for trainings. The National Vocational Qualifications Framework is an instrument for the development, classification, and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies at a certain level. It is a way of structuring existing and new qualifications.
The qualifications framework indicates the comparability of different qualifications and how one can progress from one level to another, within and across occupations or industrial sectors (and even across vocational and academic fields if the NQF is designed to include both vocational and academic qualifications in a single framework).
Under the TEVTA programme, the National Vocational & Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) of Pakistan expects that about 100,000 people will receive training through short and medium-term training courses, whereas 10,000 TVET teachers will receive academic trainings across the country.
Accreditation of 1,000 TVET Programmes is a target for the programme, while implementation of competency-based training programmes in 30 TVET institutions with 10,000 completers is the outcome of the 5 year programme which will end in 2016.
After the 18th Amendment in the Constitution, provinces can independently implement the programme though their provincial technical education and vocational training authorities.
Dr. Iftikhar Hussain Shah, Director (Research and Development) at Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority-Punjab, tells TNS that German experts under this programme have helped Pakistani institutions and policy makers to develop the policy and framework.
"Provinces have their own resources for running these programmes and donors like the World Bank have supported various training programmes," he adds. Punjab has a wide network of polytechnic institutes, vocational schools, and other technical and apprenticeship training institutions.
In Sindh, different departments were imparting different technical and vocational training courses. Before the creation of TEVTA Sindh, the provincial Department of Education and Literacy was managing 182 institutes in the province whereas the Labour Department was running 34 institutes of vocational training.
The social welfare department was providing training through 16 institutes of commercial and technical trainings. All these institutes are now merged under STEVTA.
STEVTA is running different projects like Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme (BBSYDP), a mega effort to provide technical and skill development education in both urban and rural areas of Sindh. "Our main focus is on providing technical skills to youth in rural areas so that they can get employment in the country as well as abroad," says Majyd Aziz, a member of BBSYDP and a former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.