Monday, October 24, 2005

Skill Development

Reducing gaps in skills development

By Muhammad Alamgir Chaudhary
THE twenty-first century witnesses a new global economy dominated by emerging technologies and skills. It is knowledge-based economy. Unfortunately, the importance of skill development has been ignored by our entrepreneurs, particularly the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the government. Many of the large enterprises including multinationals in our country have established their own training/skills development facilities.
The SMEs usually cannot afford and find it financially unviable to have such facilities. Their source of intake (skilled workers) is mainly dependent on traditional ‘ustad-shagird’ approach or public sector institutions. Unfortunately, skill development has not been recognized as a competitive tool.
The skill development programmes are mainly offered in the public sector and hardly any in the private sector. Public sector institutes merely offer market driven skills development programmes.
These institutes offer programmes mainly in the civil, electrical and mechanical fields. Now, when new technologies have emerged and new SME clusters established in different locations, there is a strong case for conducting a comprehensive skills development need identification survey.(SDI).
Curricula are not designed and prepared to meet the requirement of industry. The standardization and uniformity are the major issues. The language of the curricula is mainly the English and concept of curriculum for different levels i.e. certificate, diploma and degree does not prevail. The competency based - curriculum may be developed covering the need identification, design, development, implementation and follow-up (continuous improvement) phases.
The active involvement of stakeholders including Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI), trade associations (TAs), key industrial players and SMEs in conducting survey and curriculum development is very critical.
There is a severe shortage of skilled manpower and to fill the demand supply gap, sector specific SDIs are desperately needed. A few examples for such SDIs to be established are as follow:
Citrus Research and Training Institute (Sargodha); Sports Goods Training Institute (Sialkot); Light Engineering Training Institute (Gujranwala/Gujrat); Model Mining & Quarry Training Institute (Gaddani/Balochistan) and (Buner/NWFP); Composite Material Training Institute (Lahore); Mobile Phone Repair Training Institute (Lahore); Construction Industry Training Institute (Lahore, Karachi and other main cities); Wooden Furniture Training Institute (Chiniot); Marble Finishing and Processing Institute (Rawalpindi); Ginning Training Institute (Multan, R.Y.Khan, Khanewal and Ghotki); Sheep and Goat Farming, (D.G.Khan and Bahawalpur); Dates Research and Training Institute ( Muzaffar Garh).
The following skills development institutes have become either defunct or underutilized due to various reasons including management issues, obsolete technology, HR constraints, etc:* Institute of Ceramic Institute (Gujrat); Cutlery Institute (Sialkot Road, Wazirabad); Leather Service Center (Kasur); Light Engineering Service Centre (Gujranwala); Metal Industry Development Centre (MIDC) (Sialkot); Blue Pottery Institute (Multan); Mango Institute (Shujabad); National Institute of Leather Technology (Karachi); Leather Footwear Centre (Hyderabad); Automotive Testing & Testing Centre (Karachi); Gems & Jewelry Training Institute (Karachi); Pak-Holland Metal Project (Peshawar); Pak-German Wood Working Centre (Peshawar); Leather & Footwear Institute (Charsadah).
Earlier some institutes were established in different locations because of the presence of relevant clusters but now those clusters have been relocated. For example, at the time of Independence leather tanneries were located in Gujranwala but now these are relocated in Sialkot and Kasur. Similarly, cluster of citrus has shifted from Sahiwal to Sargodha.
The following training institutes may be relocated accordingly:* Institute of Leather Technology (ILT) from Gujranwala to Sialkot; Citrus Research Centre—- from Sahiwal to Sargodha; and the Centre for Agricultural Machinery Industry (CAMI)— from Mian Channu to Daska
The graduates of SDIs usually lack in practical skills. There is no linkage between SDIs and industry whereas in developed countries these institutes conduct R&D activities on behalf of industry and students complete their OJT in industry. SDIs must arrange OJT for their students and it should be part of their course work. This will help them in acquiring new skills as per industrial requirement and hence reducing skills gaps.
Skills development programmes in rural areas can help reducing poverty, employment generation and stop migration to urban areas. The vocational skills should be carefully selected so that these meet the regional markets and culture.
Initially those skills may be selected which need lesser marketing efforts for enterprise development. Based on experience, in some rural area development programmes by NGOs and international organizations, the following skills development initiatives can be started: artificial insemination (animal); honey beekeeping; electricians; auto mechanics; sheep and goat farming; fish farming; off-season vegetable production and, floriculture
Hardly any link exists between research institutions and SDIs, therefore, the research conducted fails to create the expected impact. Recently, the Federal Minister For Industries, Production and Special Initiatives, Mr Jahangir Tareen asked SMEDA to prepare sector development strategy for seven priority sectors including, sports goods, gems and jewellery, marble and granite, engineering, agro-food processing and dairy, furniture and fisheries.
During the study, skill development gap is being identified as a critical factor across these sectors. The outcome of these sectoral studies should be implemented by the SDIs to create positive impact.
Under WTO regime, SMEs are facing lot of challenges including free flow of raw materials, borderless trades, no protection to local industry, higher technology, zero subsidy etc.
The skilled and knowledge based workforce, which is the prerequisite for accelerated growth of economy, would only be the competitive tool for SMEs to survive. Not so many organizations / institutes have tried trained/skilled workforce as a competitive tool which is the source of higher quality and improved productivity.
In the budget 2004-2005, the government has announced lucrative incentives for private sector to establish vocational, technical or polytechnic institutions. It has announced a National Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority.
Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC) and Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) were established by the Government of Punjab in 1998. PVTC is imparting employable skills to ‘mustahqeen’ with the prime objective of poverty alleviation. TEVTA is a nice concept of bringing more than 400 training institutes under one umbrella earlier working with seven different departments. TEVTA is still undergoing restructuring process which may take longer time before the original dream becomes true.
The Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC) and National Productivity Organization (NPO) are also providing support to SDIs. They have the capacity to assume bigger role. To meet the need of local engineering industry training facilities of plastic moulds have been established at Pakistan Industrial Technical Centre (PITAC) with financial and technical support of JICA. National Training Bureau (NTB) Skills Development Councils (SDCs) can also help to meet WTO challenges by improving the standards of our existing skills levels.
Technical Up-gradation and Skills Development Company (TUSDEC) has been created by the Ministry of Industries, Production & Special Initiatives, as an implementing institution to fulfil the aim of upgrading technology and developing skills in industrial sectors. TUSDEC will promote technologies which would (i) increase competitiveness, (ii) enhance value addition, (iii) leverage existing skills, and (iv) employ locally available raw materials.
The government function should not be limited just to provide financial resources for the establishment of infrastructure. The support must be extended until organizations become stable and mature. In many cases the government initiatives collapsed just because of lack of support. Making institutions consume scarce resources of developing countries, maximum benefits should be extracted out of these facilities.
Recommendations: the government may assume the new role of facilitator rather than direct provider of the services; national need identification survey for skills development may be conducted; need-based curricula be designed and implemented; sector-specific institutes be established; relocation of training facilities as per current need; PVTC and TEVTA be replicated in other provinces; skill development programmes be started for rural enterprise; skilled workforce be used as competitive tool; government SDIs should offer need-based programmes; compulsory OJT for graduates of SDIs; close coordination between SDIs and industry; Close coordination between SDIs and research institutes and, GoP may bring a new national training policy.
(Source: Dawn, October 24, 2005)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sindhi Languaage: Will CM Prevail

KARACHI: Language issue prompts CM’s intervention
By Mukhtar Alam
KARACHI, Oct 21: The Sindh government and its education department appeared on different wavelengths on Friday in regard to the implementation of Sindhi Salees as a compulsory subject at the intermediate level.The education department on Friday issued a couple of notifications, including one that pertained to the withdrawal of a Sept 27 notification which had suggested for the introduction of Sindhi Salees teaching to the students of Class XI, with immediate effect.In a statement issued later in the night, the Sindh chief minister expressing his annoyance over the issuance of notifications on Friday said that the Sindh education department did not have any power to amend any piece of legislation passed by the Sindh Assembly and these notifications were issued without his consent and approval.The new scheme of studies issued by the education department on Friday provided for the teaching of Sindhi Salees (Simple) as an optional subject for the Urdu-speaking students at the intermediate level (Class XI).A notification issued on Friday stated that the education department had approved a scheme of studies for the XI and XII classes, which also envisaged teaching of Salees Urdu/Sindhi carrying 100 marks for class XI and Sindhi Compulsory (100 marks) for Class XII for the Sindhi-speaking students.In the meantime, the department also revoked one of its notifications of Sept 27, under which the scheme of studies at the HSC level had been revised and required to be implemented with immediate effect.Referring to a revision in the scheme of studies approved by the federal education curriculum wing on the Sindh government’s initiative, the Sindh education department on Sept 27 had notified that Urdu-speaking students were required to study Salees Sindhi, carrying 100 marks, for the HSC exams, in Class XI, with immediate effect. And, Urdu compulsory, carrying 100 marks only was supposed to be taught in Class XII.In a related development, the Sindh education department has also decided to set up a committee to examine the issue of teaching of languages at the higher secondary level.The statement of Sindh chief minister said that no changes would be made in the law relating to the Sindhi language as Urdu-speaking students were already studying Salees Sindhi from class IV in both the public and private schools of the province and they would not feel any difficulty in studying Sindhi in class XI and XII.He directed Sindh Education Minister Dr Hamida Khuhro to immediately constitute a committee of Sindhi and Urdu intellectuals and educationists, which would submit its proposals on the teaching of Sindhi and Urdu languages in all the educational institutions in the province, to the provincial government.The following is the text of an official hand-out carrying the statement of the chief minister:“Chief Minister Sindh Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim has said that no one can finish the Sindhi teaching, promotion and use of Sindhi Language Act 1972 passed by the Sindh Assembly in 1972 for furtherance of the Sindhi language, because no body has any right to cancel himself/herself the bill passed by the Sindh Assembly except the assembly. He maintained that no one could end the Sindhi language from Sindh. The chief minister said that Urdu was the national language, Sindhi the provincial language and English was the official language, and all these languages possess their importance and preference, and all these three languages would be receiving their due importance according to their fact. No dead body of any language can be taken out in his presence, he added.“In a press statement issued here on Friday the chief minister said that the presence of Urdu-speaking people in Sindh was a reality, while the Urdu-speaking people had to live in the province, and their life and death lies with Sindh.“The chief minister said that hundreds of people under their efficiency, qualifications and profession learn many foreign languages, thus nobody could object any one on learning of any language of the country.“He further said that there were good relations between the Sindhi and Urdu-speaking people since the last 70 to 80 years while there had been relationships between the Sindhi and Urdu-speaking families since the last 50 years and they were cordially living as brothers.“Dr Arbab said that it was the reason that the Urdu-speaking people had also been struggling for the rights of Sindh.“He maintained that nobody would be allowed to create differences between the Sindhi and Urdu-speaking people. He said that as far as the Sindh Act 1972 was concerned, it was mentioned that Sindhi would be the provincial language of Sindh and the Sindhi and Urdu languages would be taught from class 4th to class XII, but those who got passed the bill, had not implemented fully the said bill.“They even did not framed rules for teaching the Sindhi language in schools, with the result the subject “Sindhi Salees” is not being taught up to class XI, he added.“The education department does not have any authority to amend any bill passed by the Sindh Assembly on what the governor of Sindh has asked, the chief minister added saying that the recent notification was issued by the education department without my consent and approval, and even I was not informed about that case.“The Sindhi-speaking students get benefits by learning the Urdu language while by learning the Sindhi language, the Urdu-speaking people easily understand and talk Sindhi language as such both are coming nearer to each other, he added.“The chief minister advised the opposition to avoid creating unnecessary issues by exploiting political phenomenon, because there was no issue left with the opposition.”

(Source: DAWN October 22, 2005)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ramzan and Development

In resonse to my Ramazan greeting, Sain Maqbool Aliani asked "what has ramzan got to do with development of sindh?"

I did google search on religion and economic development and came up with over 2 million results. You may check it out:

After the boxes, the first one is a study "RELIGION, CULTURE, AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE" byMarcus Noland, Senior Fellow, Institute for International Economics. The abstract is as follows:

The hypothesis that the coefficients on variables of religious affiliation are jointly equal to zerocan frequently be rejected at conventional levels of statistical significance (i.e., religion matters),but no robust relationship between adherence to major world religions and national economicperformance is uncovered, using both cross-national and subnational data. The results withrespect to Islam do not support the notion that it is inimical to growth. On the contrary, virtuallyevery statistically significant coefficient on Muslim population shares reported in this paper—inboth cross-country and within-country statistical analyses—is positive. If anything, Islampromotes growth." JEL codes: O40, Z12

My short response will be that Ramazan and development are very related. Fasting means deprivation from all food and liquids from sunrise to sunset. For about 12 hours each day for a whole month, it gives us a taste of suffering of economically less developed or poor. It should motivate us to work harder for economic development of Sindh and removal of poverty.

Your input and help towards development of Sindh is always welcome.
Ali Nawaz Memon
Sindh Development Institute