Ab­dul Wahid Uqaily speaks to En­ter­prise.

Ab­dul Wahid Uqaily, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Sindh Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Au­thor­ity, talks to En­ter­prise in this ex­clu­sive in­ter­view.

Enterprise - - Contents -

How was the need re­al­ized to set up the Sind Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Au­thor­ity?

Pak­istan is one of the South Asian coun­tries which has a grow­ing young pop­u­la­tion un­like the West. At the mo­ment, youth be­tween 13 to 25 con­sti­tutes al­most 60 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion of Pak­istan. The same is the case in Sindh. In or­der to make this large seg­ment of so­ci­ety pro­duc­tive, you re­ally need a mega ini­tia­tive to train them for en­ter­prises in Pak­istan and for jobs abroad.

The gov­ern­ment came up with a plan to con­sti­tute an au­thor­ity, where we could put all the in­sti­tu­tions un­der one um­brella so that there would be one reg­u­la­tory body and one man­ag­ing au­thor­ity, to which we could al­ways re­fer for what we wanted to do, ap­pro­pri­ate fund­ing and de­velop link­ages with the in­dus­try, so that these in­sti­tu­tions could give pos­i­tive re­sults in the short and long term.

In 2007, the gov­ern­ment is­sued an Or­di­nance for es­tab­lish­ment of the au­thor­ity, but no ac­tion was taken un­til Au­gust 2008. That was the time, when the present gov­ern­ment was look­ing out for means to bring a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives. In Au­gust 2008, a Board of Di­rec­tors for the Sindh Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Au­thor­ity (STEVTA) was nom­i­nated. Air Mar­shal Ri­azud­din Shaikh (retd.) was nom­i­nated as Chair­man. The home­work for the project in­volved two things. First was a re­search on the pre­vail­ing state of af­fairs. Termed as the base­line sur­vey, it was con­ducted for al­most ev­ery in­sti­tu­tion in terms of cer­tain pa­ram­e­ters, which in­volved the state of in­fra­struc­ture in these in­sti­tu­tions, hu­man re­source, equip­ment and ma­chin­ery and then the link­ages these in­sti­tu­tions have with the in­dus­try – if the in­dus­try is not ready to ac­cept our prod­uct then there is no util­ity. The next step was to en­gage a full time Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and that’s how I came in April 2009. As soon as I joined, the gov­ern­ment gave a prac­ti­cal shape to the Au­thor­ity by trans­fer­ring all the in­sti­tu­tions of ed­u­ca­tion, labour and so­cial wel­fare to the Au­thor­ity, thus en­trust­ing us with the man­ag­ing power and con­trol over all these in­sti­tu­tions.

Our Board of Di­rec­tors is re­quired to hold meet­ings ev­ery three months and we put for­ward what­ever plans and re­struc­tur­ing we think is go­ing to be bet­ter for the over­all achieve­ment of or­ga­ni­za­tional ob­jec­tives. The Board has at least two peo­ple who are lead­ing pro­fes­sion­als - So­hail Wa­ja­hat, Chair­man, Pak­istan State Oil and Tahir Jawaid, Vice Pres­i­dent, En­gro Chem­i­cals.

‘To re­duce poverty you have to eco­nom­i­cally strengthen peo­ple for which they must be given skills. Once they have those skills, they can ei­ther get bet­ter em­ploy­ment or be­come en­trepreneurs. Our or­ga­ni­za­tion is striv­ing to im­part those skills to the youth.’

They have a pretty clear idea of what the hu­man re­source re­quire­ments of the in­dus­try are.

What is the role of STEVTA in ful­fill­ing the re­quire­ments of tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional train­ing?

If you see the cur­rent state of af­fairs in Pak­istan, only ac­qui­si­tion of a de­gree is not pro­duc­ing ef­fec­tive re­sults. What is re­quired glob­ally is that peo­ple should have some tech­ni­cal or vo­ca­tional skills to ei­ther be able to get em­ploy­ment in an en­ter­prise or gen­er­ate self-em­ploy­ment. The in­sti­tu­tions un­der Sindh TEVTA de­liver Diploma of As­so­ci­ate En­gi­neer­ing in var­i­ous tech­nolo­gies like me­chan­i­cal, civil, elec­tri­cal and elec­tron­ics, IT, gar­ments, in­stru­men­ta­tion, chem­i­cals, tex­tile de­sign­ing, tex­tile spin­ning and weav­ing - over­all around 26 tech­nolo­gies. These peo­ple are en­gaged at the su­per­vi­sory level and we also give trained peo­ple floor level jobs, like elec­tri­cians, plumbers, car­pen­ters, mo­tor me­chan­ics, CNG me­chan­ics, welders and oth­ers. But jobs do not come with cer­tifi­cates, they come with skills. To im­part rel­e­vant skills you should have in­sti­tu­tions that are well-equipped and have train­ers who are them­selves trained as per mar­ket re­quire­ments. So in­vest­ment is re­quired both in in­fra­struc­ture and hu­man cap­i­tal.

For any in­sti­tu­tion, it is highly im­por­tant to reg­u­late the in­put and out­put. We have tried to reg­u­late our in­put by in­tro­duc­ing a uni­form en­try re­quire­ment into our sys­tem by com­pletely out­sourc­ing the ad­mis­sions to the Na­tional Test­ing Ser­vice (NTS), which is again an ac­cred­ited body. Thus stu­dents are eval­u­ated on stan­dard­ized test­ing ba­sis and not on the ba­sis of any po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions.

It is not pos­si­ble to turn around all the 265 in­sti­tu­tions in Sindh, for which we have tried to cre­ate mod­els spread out across Sindh, so that our present sta­tus and fu­ture in­ten­tions may be re­flected through these mod­els. In the first phase we have 10 model in­sti­tu­tions, out of which there are two in Karachi. The in­sti­tu­tions cater to the un­der­de­vel­oped area of Lyari and slums of Gulis­tan-e-jo­har. Then we have in­sti­tu­tion in semi-ur­ban area of Kotri, in Tando Mo­ham­mad Khan, Mirpurkhas, Naushero Feroz, Sukkur, Dadu and Larkana.

We are also work­ing in ma­jor col­lab­o­ra­tions with Pak­istan Air Force, Min­istry of Petroleum and Nat­u­ral Re­sources, United En­ergy Pak­istan, Sindh Ru­ral Sup­port Or­ga­ni­za­tion, Na­tional Ru­ral Sup­port Or­ga­ni­za­tion, IBA Sukkur and Pak­istan Stone De­vel­op­ment Com­pany. These or­ga­ni­za­tions wanted to train in­di­vid­u­als for their spe­cific in­dus­trial re­quire­ments. PAF started in April last year and its first batch grad­u­ated af­ter 6 months. Ev­ery trainee was of­fered the re­cruit­ment test for the PAF Air­men cadre or civil­ian cadre. Only 46 stu­dents pre­ferred to join PAF and out of them they re­cruited 39.That is more than 90 per­cent re­cruit­ment-em­ploy­a­bil­ity ra­tio. It hap­pened be­cause they have trained the peo­ple ac­cord­ing to their own re­quire­ments and there is no fi­nan­cial bur­den as well. Due to the pres­ence of pri­vate sec­tor rep­re­sen­ta­tives on our Board, we have more re­sult-ori­ented strate­gies to achieve our ob­jec­tives.

How is the pol­icy frame­work of STEVTA in line with the WTO regime?

At the mo­ment we are pre­par­ing our­selves through our plan of gen­er­at­ing hu­man re­source that is glob­ally ac­cepted. There is dif­fi­culty in global mar­ket ac­cep­tance for the diplo­mas and cer­tifi­cates which we hand down in Pak­istan. There­fore, we have signed an MOU with City and Guilds UK, which is a cer­ti­fy­ing body for skilled work­force as per in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized stan­dards. Un­der this agree­ment, we are go­ing to in­tro­duce the City and Guild’s ap­proved cur­ricu­lum at our 10 model in­sti­tu­tions. Stu­dents will be trained as per the in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted cur­ricu­lum, tested as per in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted stan­dards and the suc­cess­ful ones will be ac­cepted by the global mar­ket. We can­not do this for ev­ery trainee com­ing to STEVTA, as not ev­ery­body is ready for the global mar­ket and there are huge costs in­volved as well. So, ini­tially it would be im­ple­mented in 10 schools and upon grad­u­at­ing there would be about 500 stu­dents. This is how we plan to take our stu­dents into the global mar­ket.

How do you view the so­cio-eco­nomic land­scape of Pak­istan in terms of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and sus­tain­able liveli­hoods?

Un­for­tu­nately, Pak­istan is a labour-sur­plus econ­omy. Our in­dus­trial base is shrink­ing, but our young pop­u­la­tion is in­creas­ing. So we are aware that our sys­tem out­put is not go­ing to be 100 per­cent em­ployed by the in­dus­try. We have to pre­pare our trainees for self-em­ploy­a­bil­ity as well. There are var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions that are work­ing with us, be­cause they have found a one-stop so­lu­tion in STEVTA for skill de­vel­op­ment. With the help of ILO, we have cus­tom­ized the ‘know about busi­ness’ (KAB) mod­ules. These are train­ing frame­works de­vel­oped by the In­ter­na­tional Train­ing Cen­tre in Turin, Italy, un­der the aegis of ILO.

We have started of­fer­ing KAB train­ing at our six pi­lot in­sti­tu­tions in STEVTA. These mod­ules help stu­dents about how they can think of en­trepreneur­ship in­stead of waged em­ploy­ment, how to look out for sur­round­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, how they can de­velop busi­ness mod­els and find microfinance for their en­ter­prises. In the so­cial fab­ric of Pak­istan, where not ev­ery­body can get em­ploy­ment, we are try­ing to di­vert youth to­wards en­trepreneur­ship.

Do you sup­port the idea of nur­tur­ing skilled hu­man re­source for ex­port?

Ex­port of hu­man cap­i­tal means that our youth who can find em­ploy­ment out­side Pak­istan whether in the Mid­dle East or Europe, where there is a gap for young peo­ple. It is nearly ev­ery­body’s fan­tasy that there should be a train­ing in­sti­tute where peo­ple can get trained and go to work abroad. But there is a lot more to it. The ba­sic pa­ram­e­ter is that the stu­dents must hold in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized cer­tifi­cates to be ac­cepted glob­ally. Through City and Guilds cer­ti­fi­ca­tion we are try­ing to pre­pare our youth for the global mar­ket.

What is the role of ILO in em­pow­er­ing the TEVT sec­tor of Pak­istan?

ILO is a UN body which is very spe­cific and broad-minded to­wards en­sur­ing de­cent work for ev­ery­one. They en­sure that there is no dis­crim­i­na­tion on ba­sis of gen­der, wages, or work­place fa­cil­i­ties. Now, un­less peo­ple have rel­e­vant skills, they can­not be de­cently em­ployed. So ILO helps those or­ga­ni­za­tions like Sindh TEVTA or Pun­jab TEVTA to achieve the aim of de­cent em­ploy­ment for ev­ery­one. You need to know that ILO is not a donor or­ga­ni­za­tion. They do not come and dole out money to us. Through STEVTA, ILO helped us train 25 of our mas­ter train­ers for the en­trepreneur­ship train­ing mod­ule. Those mas­ter train­ers are de­liv­er­ing KAB train­ing at var­i­ous in­sti­tutes. In this man­ner the in­dus­try de­vel­ops con­fi­dence in the in­sti­tutes and em­ploy­a­bil­ity of stu­dents in­creases.

Please elab­o­rate on TEVT re­vi­tal­iza­tion through uni­form com­pe­tency.

For ev­ery coun­try there must be a Na­tional Vo­ca­tional Qual­i­fi­ca­tion frame­work, which means that there should be a uni­form stan­dard for train­ing. For ex­am­ple, with spe­cific labour train­ing stan­dards for the whole coun­try, a labourer trained in Karachi can eas­ily move to Lahore or any part of the coun­try. Now that is the do­main in which the Na­tional Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Com­mis­sion is work­ing and we as a par­tic­i­pat­ing com­po­nent have achieved this stan­dard­iza­tion in skills train­ing.

How can skill de­vel­op­ment ad­dress the is­sue of poverty in Pak­istan and strengthen the econ­omy?

To re­duce poverty you have to eco­nom­i­cally strengthen peo­ple for which they must be given skills. Once they have those skills, they can ei­ther get bet­ter em­ploy­ment or be­come en­trepreneurs. Our or­ga­ni­za­tion is striv­ing to im­part those skills to the youth. In this way more and more peo­ple will get em­ployed and the goal of ar­rest­ing poverty in Pak­istan can be achieved.

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