Pakistan is in a tough recessional period. Job creation is essential to ending this recession. This is why many citizens were surprised when Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawwad Chaudhry asked the people not to look to the government for jobs stating that it is the private sector’s responsibility to provide employment.
If this must be the case, the questions become how many jobs must be created and what can the public and private sector do in partnership to ensure the required level of job growth in the private sector. Pakistan’s unemployment rate is 5.7 percent and the inflation rate is 12.55 percent. This means that the country not only needs more jobs but those jobs must be good-paying ones as well. The estimate of the number of jobs that will have to be created varies according to the source. Some economists suggest that Pakistan requires 2 million jobs a year. A report from Pakistani businessmen estimates that Pakistan needs to create 3.6 million job a year. A United Nations Development Program’s National Human Development Report (NHDR)report calls for generating 1.3 million additional employments a year.
Whatever the number, the presenting problem becomes what to do to generate more than one million jobs a year. The NHDR report is optimistic about Pakistan’s job creation prospects believing that Pakistan’s economy has the capacity to create such a big job growth. That growth will not come by accident, however.
There needs to be a comprehensive and integrated policy and strategic plan inclusive of the private sector, provincial and district level stakeholders that pinpoint key areas where a million plus good paying jobs can be created annually. There are a number of major areas that qualify. Given Pakistan’s current conditions, three areas that should be at the top of the job creation listare: small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in local industries; emerging technologies; and, agro-based technologies.
Pakistan has numerous SMEs in a variety of local industries across the country. The government can take numerous steps to support the growth and development of those SMEs.
These steps should include: Provision of tax incentives for new job generation. Control over the import of manufactured goods from China by imposing selective restrictions without violating global trading laws. Eliminating red tape and bureaucratic barriers that make it difficult and costly for the SMEs to do business. Construction is one of the more important industries in the SME group. This is so because this industry can generate business for up to 40 related industries.
Finally, all existing programs for technical education and skills should be expanded and upgraded to meet international standards. This emphasis on human resource development would ensure that Pakistan is competitive on the world stage.
Emerging Technologies Job Creation
The second major area for concentration should be emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security, data science, information systems, and software development.
Establishing the proper connections between farmers and agro-technology enterprises, ensuring timely weather data, and providing training on using new technology and supply chain management will enhance crop yields and worker productivity. This will contribute thousands of jobs while keeping people near their homes
According to the global research and advisory group Gartner, there are 4.4 million jobs for data scientists (and related titles) worldwide. 1.9 million of those jobs are in the US alone. Every data science job creates three non-IT jobs, making the job numbers total over 13 million. Pakistan definitely has opportunities in this job category.
A World Economic Forum (WEF) report titled “The Future of Jobs 2018″estimates that AI will create 58 million new jobs in positions such as data analysts, software developers and social media specialists. This is an excellent growth category for Pakistan as its software industry with 3200+ enterprises in a variety of disciplines brought in a record $ 1 billion plus in revenue in the period from2018-19.
A pivotal action for the construction sector would be development of low-cost and low-interest loans to be used to stimulate construction of small housing units. This focus alone, could greatly boost construction and create hundreds of thousands of construction-related jobs. In addition, there should be rules requiring construction companies to use 100 percent local material for construction. This would magnify the job creation in this sector even further.
Another focus in the SME area should be formulating an effective export strategy. For example, there should be no subsidy for exporting cotton and thread and only ‘manufactured goods not raw material’ should be supported for export. With support such as this, and with proper marketing and branding, many Pakistani brands could become major revenue generators for the country.
Another important IT-related grown category for Pakistan is the international freelance market. According to a report from the financial services company Payoneer, Pakistan ranks 4th in the world when it comes to freelancing revenue growth.
A report from Freelancer website estimates that around 1.15 million Pakistanis are earning revenue through online work. With the proper policies and training in areas such as graphic design, website design, programming, and content development, it is conceivable that freelancing could create tens of thousands employment opportunities for Pakistanis.
Agro-Based Technologies Job Creation
The third major area for job creation should be introducing new agro-based technologies.
Agriculture provides food and livelihoods for approximately 68% of Pakistan’s population living in rural areas. Given this, Pakistan needs a sound agricultural innovation policy and relevant technology to boost employment and eventually exports in areas ranging from farming, to livestock, to forestry and dairy farming.
In addition, establishing the proper connections between farmers and agro-technology enterprises, ensuring timely weather data, and providing training on using new technology and supply chain management will enhance crop yields and worker productivity. This will contribute thousands of jobs while keeping people near their homes.
In summary, those are the three major areas that should be at the top of the job creation list. There are many other areas and avenues that should be explored to identify priorities for creating large numbers of new jobs in Pakistan in the upcoming years.
The central ingredients for accomplishing this should the development and systematic implementation of a country-wide job creation policy and strategic plan through a public-private partnership. That partnership, policy and plan will not ensure job creation. Their absence will guarantee that Pakistan’s job creation results will be sub-optimal.