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Naqeebz Consulting, a business-consulting firm recently published a research-based report, Graduate Employability: Employers' Perception Survey Report 2018 to assess the skills gap in the Pakistani graduate. Launching ceremony of the survey report held at a local hotel. The objective is to create enhanced dialogue between academicians, university authorities, and employers through collaborative multi stakeholder engagement. The report recommends a focus on the need to fast-track the interventions required by improving the instructional design & teacher training material, initiating skills development programmes, and renewing methods of assessments.

212 corporate respondents were canvassed, encompassing business owners, C-Level executives and HR leaders from a range of businesses, SMEs to Large National Corporations, and MNCs. A first multi stakeholder meeting was held in Lahore on January 5th, 2019 in the presence of HEC officials and leading corporate houses. There, it was agreed that Naqeebz Consulting should continue to lead the National Capacity Skills Program and work with them to integrate the National Employability and Enterprise Skills Program.

The lead contributor for this report is Muhammad Moazam Shahbaz, Founder & CEO of Naqeebz Consulting Muhammad Moazam Shahbaz has been a catalyst in influencing the skills agenda in Pakistan, and has collaborated with leading national and international experts to support his quest for change for many years now.

A balanced blend of the corporate Pakistan was created so a well-structured and educated survey could be conducted, one that can help restructuring the educational environment for students. 212 organizations encompassing 25 industries that collectively employ over 500,000 workforces were engaged out of which 20% belonged to IT/Telecom/BPO/Call Center industry, 16% to FMCG/Manufacturing, 14% to Retail/Fashion/Hospitality/Food, 12% to Professional Services, 9% to Education & Training/Research, and 8% to Banking & Finance/Insurance. The targeted audience for this report includes Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), faculty members of public and private universities, degree awarding institutes, technical and vocational training institutes, professional training institutes, industry and business leaders, policy-makers, media, and the public in general.

The data used in this report was provided by designated decision makers including human resources executives, CEOs, and board members: the survey respondents by job title included 27% Chairman/CEO/CHRO/Deputy CEOs, 25% VP HR/Director HR/Head of HR, and 44% Manager HR/Recruitment Specialist. To understand the holistic picture location wise, it was made sure that the survey respondents had their operations in Punjab (84%), Sindh (56%), KPK (42%), Balochistan (29%), Azad Kashmir (22%), Gilgit Baltistan (19%) and FATA (15%). An impactful 30% had overseas operations as well.

Alarmingly, the results conclusively highlighted that a whooping 78% of the employers canvassed are not satisfied with the quality of fresh graduates. Senior leaders are unhappy with the inability of graduates to justify their higher grades at the mere interview or assessment stage. This might be because 77% of employers are dissatisfied with the content and claims made by graduates on their CV/resume. 82% of employers cited that they do not hire fresh graduates merely on the basis of 'high grades' as what is essentially required to support decision-making in the recruitment process, is a blend of employability & enterprise skills to academic degrees. Resultantly, above 50% of the employers expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of commercial awareness/viability of the graduates. It is worth noting that 85% of businesses look for a positive attitude and 70% for confidence. 65% cited decision-making, verbal communication, teamwork, passion/enthusiasm and personal integrity as key criteria for hiring. Listed next were strong 'analytical skills', 'time management', and 'critical thinking skills' that comprised 50%.

When employers were asked if they have ever been approached by HEIs or HEC for collaboration, 80% of the total employers responded in the negative. However, given a chance, almost all employers (96%) showed an interest in becoming partners or collaborators with HEC and HEIs to improve curriculum.

To this effect, Naqeebz Consulting will provide the bridge between all stakeholders based on their feedback from domestic stakeholders and international experts. Naqeebz Consulting is committed to effectively initiate and anchor a much-needed shift in bridging the gap between academia and industry in favor of a skilled Pakistani graduate. They have proposed a comprehensive intervention plan that will support the transforming skills Pakistan agenda, and will continue to influence the developmental agenda in an inclusive, dynamic, and cost effective manner. Further, they commit to being the central anchor for multi stakeholder monitoring and evaluation systems.

Raja Yasir Hamayun Sarfraz, Minsiter Higher Education Punjab graced the launching ceremony as a chief guest. Among other speakers were:

-- Muhammad Moazam Shahbaz, CEO Naqeebz Consulting

-- Salman Rawn, Managing Director Master Beverages

-- Prof. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, Chairman Accreditation Committee PHEC

-- Najeed Ahmad, CEO ABB Pakistan

-- Prof. Dr. Aziz Akbar, Vice Chancellor UET Lahore

-- Mahmood Sadiq, Chairman University of South Asia

-- Prof. Dr. Raheel Qamar, Rector Comsats University Islamabad

-- Zeshan Hanif Qureshi, Group Chief Marketing Officer QMobile

-- Maj Gen (R) Obaid Bin Zakriya HI (M), Vice Chancellor LGU

-- Sajjeed Aslam, Head ACCA Pakistan

-- Prof. Dr. Rauf I Azam, Vice Chancellor University of Education Lahore

-- Dr. Sumaira Rahman, Rector Superior University

-- Fatima Asad Said, Regional Director Abacus Consulting

-- Margo A Aziz, Director International School of Choueifat -PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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