Competence! not claims

By: Syed Shahzaib Haider

When I was in school one of my classmates named hamid was good at math and science subjects. But losing his father before the age of 17 changed his whole life. He was forced to become accustomed to a new and limited scope of opportunities available to him in life, both academically and financially.

But over a short period of time he learned how to deal with the trauma, misfortune and setbacks and he built a high level of resilience.
Likewise there are so many brilliant students who are bright and motivated, but due to challenging circumstances may not have a typical sort of CV in their hand listing the top class universities they’ve attended or the best financial firms where they’ve worked.
What if their CVs could instead focus on the things they learned from their actual “course of life” I wonder?

Because after losing his father hamid moved into his uncles house where he had learned how to deal with hardships at an early age; he developed higher level of emotional intelligence from sharing a new home with cousins run by a no-nonsense aunt and a remarkable level of drive and motivation towards his goals and eventually only on the basis of his intellect he made it through. Today he is in US working for one of the finest company and it was possible only because his first employer anticipated the growth in his business by having faith in his talent not in his degree.  

There are many people like hamid seeking work across Pakistan.
 A very small number of youth across Pakistan gets into university not everyone is privileged to get enrolled in top class universities to have a bright future. The question here is that where we will have all these unemployed intelligent people only because of the insignificant fact that they don’t have degrees most job vacancies block them out no matter what other marketable skills they possess. Pakistan is a country where the education system is so broken, and failing to deliver on its promise of developing basic literacy.

Let me give you an example related so you can understand it with no trouble every time I ask the employers in my circle of people what makes someone a successful employee. The answer usually focuses on character, behavior and soft skills, but trusts me it was never about the degree they get from universities.

This means that many employers are missing out on potential talent because the candidates lack the university credentials or type of work experience the employer thinks they must have. This is not to say that obtaining a university degree is not important, we do need more qualified people in Pakistan, but it should not be, by default, the top criteria for job selection.

To set right this practice, we need to see industry-wide commitments from employers to engage in more socially-inclusive hiring practices that do not discriminate against young people because of their lack of job experience or degrees, but give them credit for valuable life skills. The Government and Companies in Pakistan should take the bold step in that direction, doing away with academic and education details in their application processes and attempting to level the playing field for talented individuals regardless of their background.

The writer is Special Correspondent/Columnist at The Dayspring