STEM has numerous graduates in Pakistan and is also one of the leading career choices that individuals make. However, since the pool of talent is ever-increasing, the government has been unable to create equal amount of opportunities to cater this resource which ultimately results in ‘brain-drain’ of talent. Engineers, scientists, mathematicians, technologists, etc. move out of Pakistan to avail lucrative opportunities abroad which gives them a fair return for their amount of hard work. This probably is the most urgent problem which requires effective policy design for STEM graduates. The current government of the country has initiated collaborative projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which will make good use of our home-grown talent and there are various other opportunities like paid-internship programmes, government support for the private sector to create jobs and many more. The problem however, is these opportunities are not enough and don’t either give a fair return for the efforts of the graduates.
Another major problem is advocacy for such policies. Policy formulation and implementation, both require ardent endorsers who can gather enough support for the policy to be turned into a Bill and ultimately into an Act of law. Pakistan is a country which spends less than 4 percent of its GDP on education which includes education related to science and technology, therefore, the root of the problem is evident right from this point. This shows that the policy makers don’t have this issue on their cards and advocacy groups are unable to create a buzz about the need for policy.
STEM graduates are the need of the time. With a fast-pacing world where technological advancement gives an edge to economies and scientific research and development is an indicator of progress, Pakistan must develop and retain its resources. Although the private sector has immense opportunities for STEM graduates and there are numerous tech start-ups which are gaining attention but the government’s support is mandatory. Favourable tax policies, capital-financing schemes, employment opportunities in public corporations or government projects without quotas, etc. can bring considerable change. Apart from employment opportunities, STEM graduates need to be secured at the university-level as well. Government universities have certain provincial or gender-specific quotas defined along with competitive entrance examinations which act as a barrier for many potential “STEM-ers” to roll in. Various policies for STEM graduates, in terms of their education, employment and legislation need to be formulated, implemented and then evaluated so that it can be checked whether the policy action taken, achieved the objectives laid down in the policy statement
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