HUMAN Resource Development (HRD) has assumed greater proportions in the wake of globalisation and increasing competitiveness among national and international organisations. The purpose of HRD is to increase aggregate levels of knowledge and skills of the workforce with a view to maximising opportunities for socio-economic progress of a society as a whole. According to Michael Paul Todaro (1994) human capital is “the productive investments in humans, including their skills and health that are the outcomes of education, health care and on-the-job training.” .As opined by Adam Smith, the prosperity of a country is determined by the skill, efficiency and attitude of the labour used by that country. Many countries of the world have been able to develop themselves due to the will, capacity and skill of their human resources.
For example, countries like Japan, Singapore, Germany and Hon Kong have been able to achieve economic miracles by mobilising their human resource. Human capital is an essential factor of production that facilitates higher levels of productivity and contributes to the gross national product. The human resource theorists advocate that education and training create skills, which in turn contribute to higher levels of productivity and income of a country. Hence, HRD deserves special attention in a country’s development planning. Human resource development involves multidimensional training and development to augment the knowledge, skills, education and creative capabilities of the human resource (HR). The objective is to strengthen and enhance the efficiency of the workforce to bring improvement in the quality and scale of its output. HRD should, therefore, aim at realizing the full potential of the workforce, including the management, in terms of quality, leadership and personal growth by creating an environment conducive to total participation of the HR. Technological progress and scientific innovations are now constantly reshaping the current and future prospects of socio-economic settings at the global level. Digital technology is supplementing human resource in terms of efficiency, team work and adaptability of the workforce. According to the World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, the world today faces a “human capital gap.” This is particularly true in the case of developing countries where the workforce lacks modern knowledge and skills to meet the challenges of 21st century. Despite enormous wealth of natural and human capital, developing countries in the global South have remained majorly backward. Resultantly, majority of the populations in the South are deprived of the materialistic benefits that economic development offers.
In view of the impoverishment of the South, the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) was established in 1994 to promote science and technology for accelerated socioeconomic progress in the south. HRD forms a primary constituent of COMSATS’ activities to meet the demand for suitably trained and skilled workforce. COMSATS organizes different seminars, workshops and training programmes in collaboration with its Centres of Excellence and partner organizations to enhance the scientific proficiency, knowledge and expertise of the human resource in developing countries. These activities also provide excellent opportunities to the scientists to share information on scientific knowledge and learn from the expertise and experiences of their counterparts. In addition, COMSATS facilitates South-South and Triangular Cooperation to promote research and development through innovative projects in the Member States. COMSATS sponsors different on-the-job trainings, workshops, postgraduate scholarships, expert visits and technical consultancies. In accordance with Goal-17 of the UN 2030 Agenda , “Partnerships to achieve the Goal”, COMSATS is strengthening Triangular Cooperation to help developing countries benefit form scientific advancements taking place worldwide. Currently, 22 Centres of excellence (CoEs) representing top class scientific organizations are engaged in building scientific capacity building in the member States. In addition, the International Thematic Research Groups (ITRGs) under COMSATS’ patronage are providing useful platforms for the exchange of knowledge, expertise and sharing of technical resources towards human resource development in the member countries/institutions.
In the global context, comparative advantage is measured in terms of the technological skills and competence of a country’s human resource and its readiness to respond to the rapid changes in technological environment. Countries in the South therefore need to prepare their workforce to benefit from the tremendous opportunities offered by technological advances. According to the World Bank Report 2019, “Innovation will continue to accelerate, but developing countries will need to take rapid action to ensure they can compete in the economy of the future. They will have to invest in their people with a fierce sense of urgency especially in health and education, which are the building blocks of human capital to harness the benefits of technology and to blunt its worst disruptions. But right now too many countries are not making these critical investments.” It is evident that without an urgent and concerted effort to build human capital, the developing countries are in danger of being excluded from future prosperity. In this respect, governments have to play the facilitating role in attuning the human capital to the demands of globalisation. It is equally important that private institutions also invest in human capital formation and contribute to the overall process of economic development. Besides, the donor agencies need to help strengthen research capacities to create healthy and prosperous societies in the South. Economic growth and development are now increasingly dependent on the skill formation of human capital. Developing countries in the South, therefore, need to improve the productivity of their labour force and produce a strong economic impact on overall productivity to raise the living standards of their peoples. In a nutshell, the future belongs to those nations that capitalize on the brainpower of their workforce and attune themselves to the demands of the 21st Century in terms of knowledge, skill and technological capabilities.
—The writer is former Press Secretary to President of Pakistan and a freelance columnist.