A report quoting data of the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment says 800,000 professionals left Pakistan during 2022 to take up jobs abroad in the backdrop of rising unemployment in the country.
This is significantly up from a pre-pandemic total of 625,876 in 2019, and 382,439 the year before that, with Minister for Planning and Development Prof.
Ahsan Iqbal expressing concern over ‘huge exodus of educated youth’. No doubt, there is also a plus side to the phenomenon as an increase in export of manpower abroad enhances prospects of more foreign exchange for the financially hard-pressed country.
This is evident from the fact that the country received the highest ever remittances of $31.2 billion during 2022 as against $29.45 billion previous year.
Experts also point out remittances serve as a catalyst for investment and a lifeline for economic growth because they induce a cycle of consumption, production, exports, income and further investment as a sizable portion of the GDP to help prop up the economy.
It is also important to note that remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis to their families are spent in full on gross domestic products in Pakistan, which also contributes to the economy.
However, it is also a fact that a phenomenal growth in export of manpower is also reflective of the compressed job market at home and pessimism of the youth about the future of the country.
Pakistani universities produce 225,000 graduates every year including 25,000 thousand engineers and 20,000 IT graduates but only ten percent of them get employed in local companies and offices, which is indicative of the nature of the problem and the kind of frustration that a graduate confronts on completion of his/her degree after laborious studies and huge expenditure running into millions.
The Minister claims the Government has launched several development initiatives to help retain talent and these include establishing 200,000 paid internships for young engineers, a 10 billion rupee ($37.35 million) innovation fund and a 40 billion rupee programme to develop 20 poor districts but these are peanuts in the face of the magnitude of the problem.
The country needs to pursue industrialization, offer lucrative incentives for investment in various sectors and treat development allocations as sacrosanct to help create more employment opportunities for the educated youth.