Pakistan partners Saudi Arabia in realizing Vision 2030

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Mahmood Latif

THE presence of more than 2.7 million Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, the highest number of overseas Pakistanis in the world, reflects strong relationship between the two countries. Hundreds and thousands of this number and their second and third generation witnessed and contributed towards the development of Kingdom. Both countries enjoy strong religious, social, economic and people to people contacts. Pakistanis have played pivotal role in development of banking, energy and infrastructure sector of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has embarked upon a journey of reforms in the form of Vision 2030 which aims at increasing non-oil revenue from SR163 billion to SR1 trillion, increasing the private sector's contribution from 40% to 65% of GDP, increasing the Public Investment Fund’s assets, from SR600 billion to over SR7 trillion, moving from current position as the 19th largest economy in the world into the top 15, increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30%, lowering the rate of unemployment from 11.6% to 7%, increasing the average life expectancy from 74 years to 80 years, increasing capacity to welcome Umrah visitors from 8 million to 30 million every year and to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the Kingdom from the current level of 2.9% to 6%.

This massive reform initiative will generate huge economic activity, which will require financial, human and technological resources to achieve targets. As per General Authority for statistics, KSA, the population of Saudi Arabia was more than 32 million in year 2017, out of which 12 million was estimated number of expats. Majority of Saudi population is comprised of youth, which will require employment opportunities in future. Saudization is aimed at replacing expats with Saudi nationals and reducing unemployment among Saudi youth. However, skilled and semi-skilled expat workers will keep on playing their role owing to their advantages and volume of development activity Saudi Arabia is going to undertake under Vision 2030.

Pakistan is the only country, which can partner the ambitious targets of Vision 2030. Pakistan is experiencing youth bulge and have extra workforce, which is able to work overseas. Current unemployment rate is around 6% of the work force and plenty of young people from highly qualified to unskilled labor are searching job opportunities. Despite the fact that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has absorbed more than 30,000 young men, more than 150,000 trained young men are still in search of appropriate jobs. This large workforce was trained under Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Program and Prime Minister’s Youth Training Program. This skilled, trained manpower can be imported in Saudi Arabia for immediate deployment.

Saudi Arabia has started work on some mega projects. These projects, especially infrastructure oriented will require all types of workforce. Pakistani workforce is known for its expertise in construction sector and Pakistan is capable of supplying the required workforce. An elaborate system, consisting of around 4,000 Overseas Employment Promoters and Overseas Employment Corporation is in place for immediate deployment of required workforce. Bureau of immigration is also introducing the project for registering intending migrant workers. This will create database for future consumption.

Pakistan is also blessed with an elaborate technical training regime, which has more than 600 technical institutes in length and breadth of the country. These institutes are imparting education to Pakistani youth keeping in view the local and international requirements. These institutions are accredited and certified by different international organizations and imparting globally recognized trainings. NAVTTC, a federal government organization, has resource pool of around 150,000 trained and certified workforce, which is equipped with various skills ranging from heavy duty drivers to automobile technicians. Keeping in view the emerging areas of robotics and mechatronics, different institutions are preparing manpower from engineers to technicians to meet national and international requirements.

Pakistan is the sixth most populated country in the world with a population of 200 million. Majority of the population is falling within working age group and it is an asset for the country. Pakistani workforce is known for its expertise, smartness and hard work and can materialize development plans of any volume. Pakistanis have a clear and deep understanding of the social and economic circumstances of Saudi Arabia and can better play their role in Kingdom’s journey to achieve the objectives of Vision 2030.

— The writer is Community Welfare Attaché, Riyadh


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