Need of the Hour: Skilled workforce in Gwadar

 Need of the Hour:  Skilled workforce in Gwadar
Naghmana Zafar

THE Gwadar Port is bestowed to play an instrumental role in spurring maritime activity at the national as well as regional level.

Its associated benefits are expected to boost the socio-economic development of coastal communities all along the Makran Coast.

Realising the need for skilled and qualified workforce in various emerging maritime industries, a full-fledged Technical and Vocational Training Institute is being developed as part of the CPEC plan to support the envisioned economic expansion.

The trained locals with requisite capabilities will add into efficient functioning and sustainability of the Gwadar Port and associated China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

There is no doubt that without developing a training facility; aforesaid initiatives would not accrue the desired outcomes.

Therefore, Vocational Training Institute (VTI) has been given high importance both in the CPEC-led initiatives and at the level of the Government of Pakistan.

The success of any vocational training institute is directly dependent upon certain factors such as the size of the local population, prospects of economic growth and future industrial expansion.

Therefore, keeping in view the demographic and geographic setting in Gwadar, the upcoming training facility at Gwadar must pursue some rationales.

For instance, development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) in Gwadar under CPEC will be driving the industrial expansion in the region; therefore the primarily training plans and under VTI should revolve around the prospective growth of enterprises in these Zones.

Second, since economic activities at Gwadar are mainly related to the maritime domain, therefore shortage of trained workforce in maritime sectors can also be addressed through this initiative, particularly in the context of the blue economy which is closely linked with the progress and empowerment of coastal communities.

With the expansion of business at Gwadar and increased travel, we expect substantial growth in the tourism industry in the area.

Therefore, before proposing skill training for workers in the hospitality industry, it is essential to bridge the communication gap. Basic language skills (Balochi, Brahvi, Chinese, English and Urdu) are considered essential for people working in local businesses, travel and tourism sector industry.

Furthermore, training for hotel management, hotel operations, travel agents, clerical work, transport management, culinary skills, baking, cooking, sanitary and cleaning, event management, basic accounts and revenue handling should be considered and carried out.

All these trainings and courses will not only be helpful in the promotion of travel and tourism but also support other auxiliary sectors such as the overall economy of the country.

The fishermen community represents a large segment of the local population, so trainings related to sustainable fishing practices and catch handling can be included in the training plan.

Initially, to make the vocational training initiative economically viable and sustainable, trainings in the field of refrigeration, generator repairs and maintenance, caning and packing, boat engine repair and maintenance can be considered.

Such programmes/courses will not only fill the gap of trained people in the existing pool of workers but will also make a base for advanced or specialised training for the fishing community.

Similarly, courses related to seafood handling, fish seeding, farming, mari-culture can also be added to empower the local community which will enable them to explore avenues for sustainable earning opportunities from the sea.

Collection and farming of marine vegetation and other marine products like salt, shells etc., is also an untapped maritime potential that can be explored for economic development.

In addition to the above, the lack of skilled manpower in two big maritime industries of Pakistan – Shipbreaking and Shipbuilding – should also be taken into account keeping in view the Government’s decision of establishing a new shipyard and vision to transform the shipbreaking industry into a sustainable environmental friendly sector of the national economy.

In this regard, basic skills like crane operations, wielding, handling of hazardous martial, fire fighting etc., will be of great use to create a pool of workers to work in these industries.

Besides, there are some courses such as basics of Supply Chain, Finance Management, Accounting and First Aid which are not inherently part of the maritime sector but are important skills which ultimately complement other all type of industries.

Balochistan is the least developed province of Pakistan with a deficit in human resources, especially there is a huge lack of technically empowered people.

Therefore, the establishment of a vocational training institute is critically significant as viability and sustainability of development projects at Gwadar will likely be hampered due to non-availability of requisite manpower.

Establishment of skill development and training facilities will enable locals to become part of emerging job and employment opportunities offered by the CPEC.

Moreover, the existing misperception that the projects under CPEC benefit only people outside Balochistan and sense of deprivation amongst locals will also be addressed through this initiation.


News Desk