Entrepreneurship for economic growth

The unemployment rate among university graduates is comparatively higher than the national average of 6.3 percent in Pakistan (Economic Survey 2021-22). The major reasons for this high unemployment rate are related to the structure of the industry and the limited number of jobs that these companies can provide to graduates. Apart from such a general lack of available jobs, university graduates are also facing a skills gap.

As innovation and entrepreneurship are believed to be the key drivers, the country’s focus should be on innovation-based growth to achieve the objective of a sustained 7-8 percent growth rate in the GDP or more to drag itself out of the existing deteriorating conditions. This target can be achieved by transforming academic knowledge into entrepreneurship with systematic support of entrepreneurial activities of students and graduates in order to create jobs for not only themselves but others as well.

Enhanced linkages between universities and industry can boost, encourage and support the establishment of such links. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has also realized the need for entrepreneurial activities that could create viable businesses and therefore lead to employment opportunities for graduates, besides creating jobs. To support the entrepreneurial spirit in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the HEC has started supporting universities to establish business incubation centres (BIC), in which early-stage business ideas are to be selected to assist young entrepreneurs to transform them into successful entrepreneurial endeavours. So far, the HEC has established as many as 30 BICs across the country.

Further, the Government has started different programmes for improving employment opportunities for youth such as the “Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme”.

Moreover, being an important economic partner of Pakistan, the EU is also carrying out a project titled “Transforming Academic Knowledge to Develop Entrepreneurial Universities in Pakistan (TAKE-UP)” in an attempt to transform academic knowledge into entrepreneurship. The total volume of the project is €1.0 million. The TAKE-UP aims at uplifting the potential of Pakistani HEIs in the area of entrepreneurial culture, especially the development of entrepreneurial skills in students by improving the coaching process of students, researchers, and alumni with strong entrepreneurial intentions.

The TAKE-UP has been awarded to a consortium of six universities, including the University of Gujrat (UOG) along with Universität des Saarlandes (UDS), Saarbrücken, Germany, Athens University of Business and Economics (AUEB), Greece, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Lahore, Comsats Lahore and Government College University (GCU), Lahore.

The project has been divided into ten work packages (WPs), titled kick-off and self-assessment, strategic action planning,  development of training and teaching material on entrepreneurial skills, professionalizing entrepreneurial coaching, training and certifying entrepreneurial coaches (Train-the-Trainer), development of a TAKE-UP network, dissemination, visibility and exploitation, quality management and project management.

At the University of Gujrat, the BIC is carrying out the project in collaboration with the Office of Research, Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC) and faculty members of the Department of Management Sciences, Department of Biochemistry and Department of Chemical Engineering. Seven members of the staff from the university have visited entrepreneurial universities in Europe so far.

After a 360° assessment of the entrepreneurial culture and development of strategic action plans at the University of Gujrat, a training on “International Entrepreneurial Course 101” has already been developed. The course comprises four modules in 13 sessions. This course has been offered twice to the students. The course has been conducted jointly by the staff of Saarland University, Germany and the University of Gujrat. A well-equipped imported fabricated lab will also be established in the university under this project.

Following this TAKE-UP model, all other higher education institutions should also emphasize and try their level best to transform academic knowledge into entrepreneurial universities for resolving the issue of unemployment and social unrest to drag the country out of the prevailing economic crises.



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