ISLAMABAD (PR) The Centre of Excellence for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Thursday organised an international conference supported by TVET sector support programme titled, “CPE Skill Development: Challenges and Way Forward”.

The Centre of Excellence for CPEC has taken an initiative to project the future labour demand on different trade levels in the upcoming CPEC SEZs for each province. The study is not restricted to estimate the number of jobs only, rather identifying the technical and vocational skill-sets required for the potential industries to be established in the SEZs are of equal emphasis. On the basis of abundant natural resources and manpower in Pakistan, the concentrating industries include iron and steel, mines and minerals, textile, petrochemicals, and agriculture etc. In this association, to highlight the role of technical and vocational institutions and to make it an inclusive effort, this conference received a diverse range of experts. The key theme of the conference was job projections of the technical and vocational workforce under CPEC’s SEZs inclusive job growth and skill gap evaluation. 

China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing was the chief guest at the occasion along with Jørn W. Pedersen, First Secretary Development, Norwegian Embassy as the guest of honour. Dr Asad Zaman, Vice Chancellor Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, presented a welcome note by interpreting that the development of the nations is largely dependent on the skills training and management. Therefore, the current disconnect between academia and job requirements are the major impediments for lower employment in the country. However, SEZs under the CPEC have the huge potential to proliferate jobs for the young population of Pakistan. Thus, it is mandatory to devise the right policies so that maximum job can be gathered through the SEZs. The chief guest spoke about the importance of technical skills and stressed that Pakistan can learn from the Chinese practices as to how it developed the skills of the bulk of its population to reduce poverty and unemployment.

Jørn W. Pedersen, Abdul Jalil, Executive Director, Centre of Excellence for CPEC, Dr Nasir Khan, Executive Director, NAVTTC and Hassan Daud Butt deliberated and unfolded the different facets of inclusive employment strategies under CPEC and appreciated the timely taken initiative by the Centre of Excellence-CPEC.

In the panel discussions imminent speakers like Li Xin, Vice President, Sahiwal Coal Power Project, Ms Ambreen Shah, Vice President Legal & Corporate Affairs, China Power Hub Generation Company (Pvt.) Limited, Kashif Ahmed Soomro, Director HR, Engro Energy Limited and Sher Ayub Khan, CEO, SMEDA discussed at length the lessons from early harvest CPEC projects & way forward to demand-driven skill development.

The second panel discussion was moderated by Abdul Samie, Director CPEC, BOI and the notable speakers were: Saeed Ahmed, CEO, KPEZDMC, Huzefa M. Ali, Advisor (Dhabeji SEZ, SEZMC), SEZA Sindh and Ghous Bakhsh Marri, Chief Economist, Balochistan who deliberated upon the potentials of industrial relocation in CPEC SEZs. The third and final session was chaired by Dr Nasir Khan, NAVTTC, Executive Director including the panelists Abdur Rasheed Solangi, Secretary Labour, Sindh, Sheraz Khan Lodhi, Zonal Manager (North), Punjab-TEVTA, Shah Dina Magsi, Chairman, Balochistan TEVTA and Ms Sana Durrani, Chairperson, Balochistan Women Business Association who brainstormed role of NAVTTC & TEVTAs in delivering demand-driven skills for CPEC SEZs. In the end, Dr Aliya H Khan moderated the technical session in which research methodologies were identified to streamline the related research in this area.

The conference was concluded with the objective of identifying the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of methodology required in employment projection at different professional and trade levels.