Capturing Skilled Jobs for Pakistanis in Gulf Countries

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Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) organized an international conference on ‘Employment Opportunities for skilled Pakistanis in the Gulf’ at a local hotel in Lahore. Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Education Minister of Education and Professional Training delivered the keynote address via audio link. Mr. Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, Minister for Finance – Punjab was the chief guest at the event and Mr. Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra, Minister for Finance – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also participated in the conference via video link.

In 2017, the foreign remittances received in Pakistan accounted for USD $20 billion, and 60% of this came from the Gulf countries.  However, given the shift in employer demands, labor indigenization efforts and increased competition from countries like the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India, the employment landscape in the Gulf countries is already undergoing a significant shift.

The PSDF conference was based on a detailed study that was commissioned by the organization to understand the changing employment landscape in the Gulf countries by identifying the skills gaps and skills readjustment, required by Pakistani talent to retain and capture a larger share of the job market in the Gulf.

The conference included panel discussions which were attended by leaders of the local business industry, government officials, academia and international speakers from the US and UK. The power-packed panels discussed and debated the future of skills in the era of the 4th industrial revolution, the high potential industries and sectors in the Gulf countries and the importance of soft skills training in addition to technical training in capturing higher paid jobs. The conference also touched upon the role of overseas employment operators (OEPs) and the Government agencies in bridging the gap between employer needs and employee training programs. The detailed report published by PSDF is made available on its official website in downloadable format for the general public.

In his address to the Conference participants, Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training, stated that the governance, standards and quality assurance of the TVET across Pakistan need to be upgraded and a task force has been constituted to make concrete recommendations. Mr. Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, Minister for Finance – Punjab appreciated the efforts of PSDF saying: “The conference has touched upon a very important issue that requires immediate attention and the government looks forward to working on the recommendations derived from the conference”. He also added that this initiative is in line with the government’s focus on ensuring overseas Pakistani workers’ welfare.

Mr. Jawad Khan, CEO, PSDF highlighted that “PSDF has adopted a results-based funding mechanism and is actively managing the entire skills value chain to train and employ skilled Pakistani youth in the Gulf”.  With its aim to provide quality skills and vocational training opportunities to the poor and vulnerable people of Punjab, PSDF is geared up to work with all relevant stakeholders in the public and private sector to help Pakistanis capitalize on the vast ocean of opportunities available to our workers in the Gulf.