A country’s economic strength determines its standing in the international arena in this capitalist system, and it is mainly the skilled workforce that drives the economic trajectory. The educational institutions are supposed to deliver well-equipped human resources to the market by arming them with advanced skills and an underlying theoretical knowledge base. This necessitates strong industrial-academia interlinkages so that educational institutions design curricula based on industry requirements.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has very weak coordination between industry and higher education institutions. This has led to universities producing thousands of graduates every year whose skill sets largely stand irrelevant in the modern industrial setup. That’s why industries find it extremely hard to find a quality resource to run the wheels of the economy. This has led to thousands of graduates either languishing at home unemployed or doing jobs not commensurate with their qualifications.

It is the responsibility of the state, civil society, and NGOs alike to address this widening gulf between the industry and academia on an urgent footing through a collective approach. It is heartening to learn that some non-profit organisations have been working voluntarily to teach the youth the essential technical and soft skills to fulfil industry requirements.

A case in point is the “Let’s Pay Back” project, initiated by Qasim Ali Shah Foundation (QASF), Lahore. The foundation delivers free-of-cost training to university graduates focused on developing their leadership and communications skills to make them able to land quality jobs. Besides, the QASF has been running an aggressive campaign with decision-makers to bridge the widening gulf between industry and academia. The youth are an asset to any country. Unless the young lot is trained in relevant skills, our economy and the country will continue to suffer.