Youth of Balochistan in dire need of career counselling | By Fatima Qayyum


Youth of Balochistan in dire need of career counselling

WITH the ongoing constant shift in job market dynamics, career counselling should be made an integral part of society, particularly for third world countries, as they have lost their sense of direction in such a dense era of transformation and evolution. Career counselling lays down the basic infrastructure of society on which the country’s economic development is heavily dependent. It is a crucial factor for the prosperity of a State. The current scenario in Balochistan is also relevant in this regard, where one half of the majority of the youth wander aimlessly without ambitions in life, making them most vulnerable to engage in an insurgency. While other half is engaged in the pursuit of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) or Engineering which has grown and developed into an unhealthy obsession with a societal trend.

In reference to the 2017 Provincial Census Report, Balochistan has a total population of 12.34 million. This population is made up of 72% rural and 27% urban residents. According to the 2020-21 labour force survey, the unemployment rate in Balochistan is 4.3%, and the working age group makes up 71% of the entire population. This low percentage of employment in Balochistan points out the existing market incompatibility challenge prevalent in the province. The youth are unemployed because they are unable to keep up with the rapidly changing job market and because educational institutions have failed to produce skilled graduates.

Furthermore, as has been observed, the future prospects in Balochistan are concentrated on limited professions like medicine, engineering and bureaucracy which are highly applauded in this society. The rest of the fields are often discouraged, either by the elders or the peers. Hence, under this pressure, often people opt for civil services as well. Irrefutable evidence of this fact can be found in the data given by CSS-2020 Annual Report, according to which registered candidates for CSS from Quetta were 824, out of which only 05 qualified, which makes it 0.6%. It depicts the dynamics of the society which is highly power-oriented. The society has placed jobs with a high concentration of authority at the very top of the hierarchy. This discourages the youth, who are more inclined to pursue a diverse range of professions. This orientation of society can be justified with an explanation of the colonial background of this region and its impact on shaping the mindset of the masses.

Another reason that prioritizes career counselling implementation in this region is the existing state of confusion found in the youth population. According to the observations, a considerable population of Balochistan’s youth often switch their career paths at a very late stage, predominantly switching from pursuing an MBBS degree to join the civil service. Grass-root level analysis tells us that this confusion begins at a very early stage of the academic journey. This confusion is induced mainly by the elders of the family or parents as they influence their kids to pursue subjects that do not align with their interest areas. For instance, the majority of the kids pursue science curriculum in their school-level education while having a passion for the arts.

There is a lack of awareness in this region. With limited knowledge in this regard, students fail to express their interest and are eventually left with only one option: to follow the suggestions of their elders. This way, students who work in such areas show no motivation or lack of interest which effects their performance and compromises their output. Therefore, it is imperative for students to be given a platform to understand their areas of interest and align them with their career paths.

Academic education in Pakistan, and particularly in Balochistan, has no relevance to professional life. Students who invest their time in academic performance fail to acquire the skills required in the job market. It is one of the greatest failures of our educational institutions not to entertain and equip the youth for market. Furthermore, there is a failure in the coordination mechanism of relevant departments which is a leading cause of the high unemployment rate in Balochistan. The labour market department and the educational department ought to be actively engaged with one another.

In addition to that, there are limited and outdated curriculum prospects for students at all levels of education, such as primary, secondary and tertiary. The introduction of curriculum reforms is extremely crucial to diversify and expand the existing departments in accordance with modern developments. Structural reforms at the fundamental level should be introduced in all levels of institutions, mainly at bachelors’ level to nurture and enable our youths to fulfil market expectations. Alongside this, the institutes should also introduce and engage the students in various skill development programs to amplify their skill sets. Similarly, self-employment through freelancing and entrepreneurship, that offers a wide range of job opportunities should be encouraged in this region by the local government by initiating various training and skill development programs to broaden the vision of youths and simultaneously cater to the problem of unemployment.

—The writer is working as a Research Officer at Balochistan Think Tank Network, Quetta

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