The alarming issue of 400 PhD degree holders, unable to find jobs, has drawn attention since the last two to three years. Recently, PhD Doctors’ Association staged a protest against the plight of 671 unemployed PhD holders. Time, effort, money, especially investment of the Higher Education Commission and foreign funding agencies is going futile while increasing frustration and restlessness among the PhD holders simultaneously.

First of all, it is a tremendous achievement of HEC to produce a significant number of PhD degree holders, however, HEC needs to scrutinise the actual number of those unemployed among them; because sometimes people work at private organisations, yet consider themselves jobless due to their high aspirations or expectations because they have obtained a PhD degree. It is definitely their right but in a phase of transition it may not be instantaneously feasible for HEC and Government of Pakistan to accommodate this pool of qualified people.

Coming to the point, it is highly encouraging to find that the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan is not compromising on academic corruption. News reports show that HEC has banned 13 universities from offering MPhil and PhD through distance learning programmes and closed 110 MPhil and PhD programmes in various public and private sector universities over lacking in quality. However, in the aftermath, the risk of more people losing job opportunities has heightened. It is also worth mentioning that HEC plans to increase PhD faculty to 40,000 and in this regard, the developing economy of Pakistan can benefit from these 400 to 671 PhD degree holders having no or less job opportunities today. Moreover, it’s good to extend the tenures of retired professors but it should not be done at the expense of leaving young and energetic people unattended. Besides, an increased focus on mental health is immensely important; therefore, psychologists should be hired in academic institutes as well as other professional organisations. Establishing more research centres and vocational training institutes can also accommodate jobless people from diverse fields.

In addition, to establish proper infrastructure of vocational and technical training, which Pakistan as growing economy needs, many of these PhD holders can be accommodated. The industry establishing phase of CPEC has been started and seven industrial parks are going to be built. For these new and existing industrial parks, highly skilled workforce is required, without which, reformation of industrial sector cannot be accomplished.

Chinese industrial growth is supported by the availability of skilled and technical workforce, as said by American mobile phone manufacturer Apple’s CEO Tim Cook in a recent interview. Pakistan has taken a remarkable stride by establishing its first technical university – Punjab Tianjin University of Technical Education – in Lahore in March, 2018. This initiative should be expanded to other provinces as well and PhD degree holders should be employed to provide quality technical education in these institutions. Higher Education Commission of Pakistan should accommodate the jobless PhD holders in these universities on priority basis.

Besides establishing technical universities, the training institutes being run by Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) should create new disciplines and vacancies to accommodate the PhD degree holders to uplift the quality of technical education. The economic progress of Pakistan is linked to the development of its industrial sector and to develop industrial sector, technical workforce able to operate new cutting-edge technologies is the primary requirement.

By allocating the education budget double of its current value (2.5% of GDP), government can bring more reforms in this area of technical education. These initiatives to promote and invest in technical education will not only accommodate the PhD degree holders but also fulfill the growing demand of skilled labor for rapid industrialisation.