Pakistani religious students and activists gather for a protest against social media in Islamabad on March 8, 2017, and demanded the removal of all blasphemous content from social media sites. Photo: AFP / Aamir Qureshi

The results of the latest census presented to the Pakistani Council of Common Interests show that the country’s population has swollen to 207.77 million, an increase of 57% since the last census in 1998. According to the Global Human Capital Index 2017, Pakistan ranks as No 125, which is very low.

This shows Pakistan has huge potential in terms of human capital but government attention is required to use this potential. Economic growth is greatly dependent on investment in human capital, as vividly illustrated by the outstanding economic records of Japan, Taiwan and other Asian economies in recent decades.

The continuing growth in per capita incomes of many countries since the 19th century can be linked to the increase of scientific and technical knowledge that raised labor productivity and other inputs. The growing dependence on industrial knowledge greatly enhances the value of education, technical schooling and on-the-job training for human capital.

New technological advances clearly are of little value to countries that have very few skilled workers who know how to use them. Such countries as Canada and New Zealand have opened up to immigration to attract human capital as their populations are low. This shows that population is a blessing but it needs to be utilized and invested in.

Human capital is an integral factor for development, growth and competitiveness. This connection works through numerous channels at the individual as well as national level. Learning and working give human capital an opportunity to contribute to society.

Learning skills is important, but more important is having the opportunity to utilize those skills, so it is also vital that employment opportunities are created. Opportunities in education and employment contribute to economic development and positive social and political outcomes.

Pakistan is gifted with a vast wealth of human talent. The data analysis shows that Pakistan has strong human resources waiting for good investment so that they can contribute to development of the economy.

Although the government of Pakistan has come up with such programs as loans, internship schemes, and vocational training, these have not yet achieved the desired results, so more effort is required.

It is essential that more investment be made in primary and secondary education so that Pakistanis can learn the basic skills required for the development of the country. It is also pertinent to increase the level of vocational and technical training, so that skilled, high-quality labor may be produced.

For Pakistan, as a rapidly urbanizing country in South Asia, it is important to note that developmental challenges are present, and thus it is imperative that further efforts be made with regard to investments  in the country’s people.

Junaid Ashraf

Junaid Ashraf has a Master of Philosophy degree in government and public policy. He has international publications through Taylor & Francis, a leading British publishing body. He regularly write columns for newspapers. His interests include international political economy, geopolitics and good governance. He can be followed on twitter:

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