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Unemployment: graduates forced to do odd jobs – The News International

by Arifa Rana

LAHORE: Muhammad Abdullah is a graduate of the ‘prestigious’ University of Engineering & Technology (UET) Lahore. He completed his BSc degree in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from the UET in 2020. After his graduation, he could not find a job for quite some time.

Nonetheless, forced by his economic circumstances Abdullah now works at a call centre and also as a freelance content writer—both irrelevant to his qualification. Abdullah is not alone when it comes to unemployment or educated youth doing odd jobs despite having professional qualifications. While the double job or odd jobs not only deprive our youth of quality professional life, these also limit future study prospects of young people like Abdullah who struggle to fight ever-increasing inflation compromising their dreams. While the pandemic could be held responsible for a tight job market now, but for Abdullah and many others like him this is not an excuse at all as this particular problem is not something new.
In September last year, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) had briefed the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development that that 24 percent of educated people were jobless countrywide. This should have served as a wakeup call for all those at the helm.
Unemployment is a sad reality and except frequent rhetoric of aligning university education with job market or offering demand-driven degree programs it seems our higher education institutions have miserably failed—irrespective of changing political regimes. The tragic part is there is no accountability as no one really cares. What our universities seems to really care about these days is the rankings race. Every time a new ranking of universities is announced, our universities start celebrating for having ‘improved’ their ‘performance’ over the others.
Interestingly, rankings methodologies being followed by international bodies, against hefty fees, do not include any metric pertaining to job prospects of the graduates. For example, the QS World University Rankings evaluates universities according to six metrics which include; academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio. A simple reading of these metrics suggests that most of these pertain to mere numbers without soul lacking core of the problems we are faced with. It is pathetic that our universities take so much pride in these rankings without actually taking care of their real job of producing graduates who could actually contribute in the development of the country. But for this our universities first need to empower them and equip them with skills needed in the job market.
As the selection process for Vice-Chancellors (VCs) of different universities in Punjab is about to take place, there is a pressing demand from the stakeholders and academic circles that the VC Search Committees should not merely focus on ‘vision’ of the candidates for international rankings, but what they could actually do to equip our youth with skills and qualifications required in local and international market.
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