It cannot be denied that human resource development (HRD) is at the heart of an organisation’s success story. It is common for efficacious departments to hire the right person for the right job, develop professional acumen for the organisation’s benefit, groom their employees and provide them with the right tools and a conducive environment in which they can demonstrate their abilities to their full potential.

Fortunately, our corporate sector understands its importance and develops its resources based on modern concepts and lines. A person’s educational background determines their job title: in sales, marketing, finance, accounts, hr, or administration. A member is provided with the necessary tools, training, and facilities and is then expected to deliver the results. As far as I can tell, the system is working well. Manpower has been used as the capital by enterprises for years.

On the other hand, the situation is quite different in the public sector. In truth, there is no human resource department in the government sector. These businesses are run in a way most people can never imagine running their own. The selection of people is not based on merit, and those who support this nuisance are largely unpunished.

During my early years in service, my early days were marked by meritless recruitment, quotas fixed for parliamentarians, and whimsy recruitment based on anyone’s request. A backlash led to a surge in the popularity of testing services. Discredited by many scandals, run by the same people in power corridors, the process reverted to a hybrid model. Now that power is back in the hands of the people, it’s the heyday for them. Commissions and ex-high-level staffing work well in some places but wrong people in others. There is an inherent contradiction here because commission members who enrol others on merit are not selected on merit but at the ruler’s whim.

Practically, no systematic career planning exists for professional advancement. As IG Motorway and earlier in Punjab and Sindh, I was stunned to learn that inspectors with twenty years of service were still working in the same ranks; many didn’t complain for obvious reasons. In the police service, many DSPs were appointed directly on political grounds without any experience or expertise. When they retired in their same rank, they had contributed nothing, relished the time spent and their pension now. The promotion process is well-structured with some CSS groups, while others lag in their advancement. However, for ranks, the progression is at snail-pace, which causes frustration when key performance parameters are ignored.

Although there have been few advances, the concept of specialisation has yet to become a reality. In the police service, inspectors are once again set to go on raids as soon as they return from patrol. On another fine morning, he is investigating some high-profile case, after filing an FIR the day before. ‘Hands-on training’ makes him a jack of all trades but a master of none. Considering he must travel to the crime scene; it is not surprising that he asks the complainant to arrange transportation.

DIGs can lead IT, Finance or Admin departments at the Central Police Office, but when it comes to combating crimes, they are again in the field. It is not over yet when it comes to the dilemma of specialisation or hiring the right person for the right job. It has been common for federal secretaries to oversee highly specialised departments like the FBR, Finance Ministry, IT, or the Petroleum Ministry without any experience in the field.

The officer on special duty (OSD), a sinecure appointment, can also get promoted to grade 22 but then not being given positions is a common phenomenon. Many ministries are currently being run on ad-hoc grounds, and the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has been without a head for months; so much for our priority to fight terrorism!

The situation is even worse when it comes to welfare and a conducive working environment. When an employee falls ill, the tedious procedure haunts him. My friend, whose wife is also a doctor in a government hospital in Karachi, said that she had never been to a services hospital because the process was too tiring and cumbersome. Many retirees run from pillar to post to collect their benefits. Even getting casual leave can be a hassle in some departments whereas in the UN one could be reprimanded for not availing of them periodically.

In the public sector, despite criticising its pay structure, working conditions, and environment all the time, every close associate of someone in power wishes their loved one could work there. A total of forty thousand young people applied for the CSS exam last year. Constable vacancies and other slots have attracted more than 100 thousand applicants, including those overqualified. A decent position is the right of every person. Potential and ability must, however, be considered.

The youth makes up approximately 63 percent of Pakistan’s population; by 2050 our population is estimated to reach 240 million. Their unemployment rate, 8.5 percent, is the highest in the region, while all of them are looking for a job. If not addressed, taking no action may lead to a crime, labour law and order crisis. Public sector employment accounts for 56 percent of Pakistan’s jobs, while private sector employment accounts for 46 percent. The situation is the exact opposite of international norms, where the public sector accommodates 30 percent of the population, while the private sector accommodates 70 percent.

The human resources field emerged during the industrial revolution as organisations realised the importance of healthy workers. Human resources became a niche field during the early 20th century, called “scientific management,” to improve productivity in manufacturing jobs, focusing labour. Artificial intelligence is predicted to replace humans soon. There might come a day when we won’t need a doctor to treat us, an architect to design our home, or a chauffeur to drive our cars.

A participant in my recent address to NIM Karachi merely asked me if optimising organisational development, formulating career plans, and achieving the desired goals is that difficult. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t at all difficult. If those in authority have the will to bring it about and various levels of management are held accountable for poor performance, then it can be done.

Human resource management requires specialisation, certifications, and licensing to improve HRD. Progressive public sector organisations must be established. For optimal results, a positive work environment and atmosphere are essential. In addition to training regarding the job description, it would be beneficial to train on the new elevated position—HRD must prioritise what matters most to the employees. The best vision is useless without the best people, so let’s not glorify routine when it comes to excelling but find the best and guide them to greatness.