The issue of unemployed and under-employed highly educated youth is common to most developing countries, and Pakistan is no exception. A report carried in this newspaper says there are 1,200 jobless PhDs in the country. Many of them hold doctorate degrees in highly specialised science subjects from the world’s top universities. They had been admitted to these universities on merit scholarships. They had to work hard to obtain their degrees, and despite their best efforts to get jobs commensurate with their high qualification, they have neither been absorbed in universities nor industries or any other sector.
There is nothing surprising about the whole thing because it is well known that in matters of job only those having the right connections in the right place are preferred, and merit is ignored. This shows that those who doctor their qualifications have a better chance of getting status-carrying jobs than those who have burnt the proverbial midnight oil to attain higher education. The frustration among the highly educated is a serious malady as it is affecting not only the educated but discouraging the acquisition of education as a whole.
The jobless PhDs have contacted all relevant quarters but their endeavours to get things righted have so far proved futile. The HEC was established in 2002 to overcome a severe shortage of PhD scholars in the country — then there was a shortage of 38,000 doctorate-degree holders. The HEC sent a large number of PhD students to renowned international universities on scholarship to pursue their studies. Not only PhDs financed by the HEC but also those having obtained doctorate degrees with other scholarships returned with the zeal to serve the country, but found their dreams shattered.
The quarters concerned say now several universities are facing financial crunch so they are unable to absorb PhDs. In Third World countries, there are many families where PhDs are sitting idle, and the family expenses are met by other family members doing odd jobs.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2021.