Background and Challenges:
Pakistan is a South Asian country with career guidance in an emerging state. The current population of Pakistan is 228,681,556 based on projections of the latest United Nations data (https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/pakistan-population). Currently, 64 percent of the nation is younger than 30 and 29 percent of Pakistanis are between 15 and 29 (youth group).
It is estimated that “Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children where an estimated 22.8 million children between 5 to 16 years of age are not attending school representing 44pc of the total population in this age group.” (https://nation.com.pk/2022/03/07/22-8m-children-between-5-16-years-of-age-not-attending-school-in-pakistan/). This puts the career development of many at risk.
The existing issues and challenges call for cultural specific, innovative and creative approaches to career guidance along with meeting the rights of all such as education for all (UN CRC Article 28 & Article 29) quality education for all.
“Pakistan affirmed its commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as its own national development agenda through a unanimous National Assembly Resolution in 2016. Since then, the country has made considerable progress by mainstreaming these goals in national policies and strategies and developing an institutional framework for SDGs implementation in Pakistan…Localized provincial SDG Frameworks are being formulated. The focus of the government is on mainstreaming SDGs in planning processes, ensuring strong monitoring and reporting on SDGs, ensuring public financial allocations are aligned to SDGs and alternate financing modalities are being explored, and to benefit from use of technology to accelerate progress towards SDGs.”
An overview of SDGs
In addition, the progress made towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals calls our attention. The moderate improvements on various indicators reflects that overall development still needs to be given greater attention as it directly or indirectly influences career and vocational development of all.
“Despite the Covid-19 global pushback, Pakistan’s SDG Global Rank is 129 (out of 193) in 2021, improved by five ranks, 134 (out of 166) in 2020…Despite the overall improvement in the score, in terms of trends for Goals’ achievement, Pakistan’s performance is only on track against Goal 13 (Climate Action). All other goals’ progress is either moderately improving or stagnating and worsening in the case of Goal 15 (Life on Land).”
Initiatives in career guidance:
Despite a number of challenges, career guidance works are growing in Pakistan.
By Dr. Gulnaz Zahid
Theory and practice development
The National University of Sciences and Technology in collaboration with British Council and University of Warwick, launched post graduate program on MS Career Counseling and Education in 2013. This is a pioneer program in Pakistan that has trained students who are currently serving as career counselors in different educational institutes. The Department of Behavioral Sciences at NUST ensures that students in this program learn about career counseling and education by contextualizing theoretical perspectives and gain skills through experiential learning. The program is playing a key role in connecting theory with practice. Further information can be accessed from https://s3h.nust.edu.pk/program/ms-career-counselling-education
Research in career guidance works is growing in Pakistan. This includes publishing works in world leading journals. An example of this can be viewed at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03069885.2019.1576030
Research by Mr. Raza Abbas
Career counseling and job placement support launched under Pakistan Technical and Vocational Education & Training Reform. https://tvetreform.org.pk/career-counselling-and-job-placement/
Higher Education Commission (Pakistan) through ORICs (Office of Research, Innovation, & Commercialization) promotes entrepreneurship in graduates of higher education https://hec.gov.pk/english/services/universities/ORICs/Documents/ORIC%20Policy%20%28ISC%29.pdf
Punjab Higher Education Commission supports career counseling centers in universities and colleges https://punjabhec.gov.pk/career-counseling-centers/
National Incubation Centres: The Government of Pakistan is promoting entrepreneurship as a viable career option. National Incubation Centers have opened in major cities of Pakistan: Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore. Here is the link for more information.
Recent non-government initiatives
Such initiatives include private companies such as Coaching & Training Pakistan Foundation (CTPF), EduVision, Merafuture and Pathway Global Career Institute
This includes Online Apps such as Career Guidance PK and websites such as Talib.pk
Increased advocacy to promote career counseling in Pakistan https://nation.com.pk/24-Feb-2021/the-trend-of-making-career-choices
International Representation of Pakistan at Premier Career Conferences
Career Education Status
Career Education Status
Planning to form a national career consortium where keen stakeholders come together and have regular discussion on career development; stake-holders include: Students-Youth Parliament, Teachers Professional Association, Parents Association, Educators Association from public and private educational institutes, Employers, Media representatives and state officials of the country from the Education and Youth Ministries.
Media is a game changer to advocate the message we are planning to have programs on prime-time television and radio so awareness of career education increases.
Currently in practice training teachers on becoming career practitioners in the country. An evidence based program of 40 hours in practice, it is scale-able and is being customized to other countries.
The annual United Nations (UN) high-level meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace was held in their New York City headquarters in April 2018. The gathering recognizes that inclusive Career Education assists with improving global economic cooperation, helps with combating global poverty and contributes to sustained peace. Career Education enables humanity to blossom and leads to social justice, sustained peace and continuous livelihood.
APCDA is honored to share that Mr. Raza Abbas, our very own Pakistan Country Director, was recently selected to participate at the UN's April meeting for his work with his social venture, Pathway Global Career Institute, which is based in Pakistan. During the New York gathering, Mr. Abbas not only learned about the best global practices for peace-building from distinguished dignitaries throughout the globe, but he also suggested the following additional ideas to strengthen peace reform:
APCDA proudly congratulates Mr. Abbas for his selection by the UN as well as his ongoing commitment to the career education profession. Mr. Abbas is the Chief Executive Officer of Pathway Global Career Institute. He serves on the Board of APCDA and ARACD and is an Editorial Board member of IAEVG. He also is the proud recipient of our 2017 APCDA Outstanding Career Practitioner Award. He can be reached at email@example.com. We warmly wish him ongoing success!
Inclusive Career Education assists with improving global economic cooperation and helps with fighting global poverty and sources of social stress. It enables humanity to nurture across the globe and leads to social justice and harmony. The United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights considers four key principles of inclusion: the dignity of every person, the right to self-determination, the intrinsic equality of all people regardless of difference, and the ethic of social solidarity. An institutionalized Inclusive Career Education Teacher Training Program has been strategically developed to instill hope and meet the challenges of multi-cultural inclusivity for youth. The Training Program involves all the relevant and key stakeholders, i.e. educators of schools and colleges (grades 8-12), employers, parents and most significantly the youth, themselves. Educators will learn to identify the hidden talent of youth at early ages, 12-16 years. They will become adept at exploring hindrances to youth inclusivity. The overarching goal of this innovative and holistic training program is to develop career educators with a long-term vision to ensure that today's youth will be able to meet the needs of the future workforce.
Raza Abbas is the Chief Executive Officer of Pathway Global Career Institute
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, meeting on "Entrepreneurship Education" was co-hosted by Miriam College in Manila, Philippines and held on October 23-25, 2017. One hundred and twenty leading Asian entrepreneurs from 20 Asian countries/regions were selected for the October gathering. The gathering was part of ASEAN@50 celebrations in the Philippines. UNESCO's mission is one of a peace building. It is achieved through coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication; by strengthening the ties between nations and societies; and by mobilizing the wider public. APCDA is very proud to share that Mr. Raza Abbas, our very own Pakistan Country Director, was recently selected as one of the 120 leading social entrepreneurs from Asia.
Mr. Raza Abbas went through a rigorous selection process for the UNESCO meeting. At the meeting, he represented his social venture, Pathway Global Career Institute, which is based in Pakistan. The following innovative, social development projects of Pathway Global Career Institute greatly "influenced" (to borrow a word from our President's message in this newsletter issue) Mr. Raza Abbas' selection.
Mr. Raza Abbas actively participated in the UNESCO meeting and suggested two ideas to strengthen regional entrepreneurship in Asia:
APCDA proudly congratulates Mr. Raza Abbas for his selection by UNESCO and his contribution to the understanding of regional entrepreneurship in Asia. We warmly wish him ongoing success in his social development ventures and his own personal career development.
Brief explanations for Career Counseling, Career Education, Career Guidance, and Advocacy follow to build a strong discussion foundation for Career Counseling, Career Education and Career Guidance Advocacy Enhancements.
Career Counseling is a process that will help you to know and understand yourself and the world of work in order to make career, educational, and life decisions. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), http://www.oecd.org/about/, definition for Career Guidance clearly links it to individual and group activities, online and onsite activities and education, counseling, world of work experiences and system development. "Career Guidance refers to services and activities intended to assist individuals, of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers. The activities may take place on an individual or group basis, and may be face-to-face or at a distance (including help lines and web-based services)". Career Education helps a person develop the knowledge and skills they need to choose and pursue a career path. Career Education often refers to vocational training for a specific job field. Instead of focusing on academic subjects, a student learns the tools of an occupation through hands-on training.
Merrium-Webster defines Advocacy as "the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal." As professionals of the service industry, we are collectively executing amazing and meaningful social development career projects in our respective regions and countries so that humanity blossoms and leads to peace and harmony in our societies. Pause for a moment and think about how frequently we advocate for career counseling, career guidance and career education work within our local, regional, national, and global institutions. We should consider pro-actively amplifying our advocacy efforts. Some valuable advocacy strategies follow that should strengthen and enhance your efforts.
Initially select the advocacy strategy from the list mentioned below that you with your institution currently pursue as part of the institution's career counseling, career education and career guidance advocacy strategies. Then decide what else you can do to enhance your advocacy efforts.
Does your institution implement career counseling, career education and career guidance media campaigns: Social Media, TV, and/or Radio to raise general awareness in the society?
Does your institution publish career counseling, career education and career guidance research relevant to the institution"s mission?
As career professionals at your institution, do you all collectively advise communities, government, and other NGO"s on career counseling, career education and career guidance?
As an institution leader or practicing career professional, do you develop capacity for career educator communities to advocate for themselves?
As an institution, do you participate in and /or organize public awareness sessions for parents, youth, teachers and/or community stakeholders on career guidance, career counseling and career education? How frequently does your institution facilitate career guidance, career counseling and career education awareness workshops, seminars, and conferences?
If career counseling, career guidance and career education is relatively new in your country, has your institution lobbied effectively with policy making institutions in your country and law makers in order to influence career education, career counseling and career guidance legislation in your region?
Does your institution work to help draft and propose new legislation on career guidance, career counseling and career education? As an institution, have you developed a holistic youth or career policy in your country and advocated career counseling, career education and career guidance as a civic right for youth in your respective country?
As an institution have you developed career counseling, career guidance, career education websites and career resources for the society at large in the local language? Does your organization have customized career guidance software for students and teachers? Does your institution promote career guidance through innovative means i.e. mobile phones and providing career guidance through telephone help lines?
Do institutional representatives pursue speaking engagements to raise awareness and share knowledge of career counseling, career guidance, career education at schools, NGO's and vocational institutes? If so, are the engagements local, national and/or global? How frequently does your institution organize and plan national and international conferences in career counseling, career guidance and career education? Are the engagements virtual like video webinars or YouTube offerings?
As an institution, how regularly does your team train teachers, practitioners and the society at large to become Career Counselors/ Career Practitioners, Career guidance counselors/Career guidance Practitioners and Career Educators/ Career Educator Practitioners during the semester and holidays?
I hope that this article enabled you to strategically identify additional techniques to strengthen and enhance your advocacy efforts. If you would like to further discuss one or more advocacy strategies kindly email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By having the willingness to learn and un-learn, young people not only become more hopeful themselves - they can also enhance hope in their communities, which is the need of the hour. I facilitate hope-centered workshops for students in Karachi, Pakistan. To thrive in the 21st century, hope is the new pre-requisite and way of life. It is a healthy practice to appreciate and enjoy the countless blessings that we currently possess.
While we have the largest population of youth in Pakistan's history, we are presented with the challenge of tapping the potential of young people for the country's socio and economic development. This aspiration cannot be achieved without understanding the fundamental problems young people experience today and pondering over solutions to these problems. Some of the challenges towards youth development include high anxiety levels, unemployment, and inadequate career counseling and career guidance.
The Hope-Centered Workshop is an integrative, evidenced-based approach to conceptualizing, assessing and building hope that can be used across cultures and spiritual belief systems. It is based on the work of Dr. Anthony Scioli. The workshops are a "whole-brain" approach, combining cognitive-behavioural exercises with philosophical reflections and meditative-hypnotic exercises. Five modules are included in this intervention: two attachment modules, and one each for mastery, survival, and spiritual hope. A comprehensive self-report hope scale is administered before and after the workshop.
In our pilot research in Pakistan, hope scores increased significantly, with an effect size of 1.07. The qualitative feedback was equally encouraging. An exit interview was conducted after the intervention with all participants. Themes of empowerment (mastery), greater openness (attachment), hope for improved self-regulation and coping (survival), and heightened awareness to spiritual needs were commonly reported.
"I started off the workshop with a very demoralizing mindset. Currently my mindset is really very different and positive than what I initiated with. I will give credit to hope workshops for diverting me towards positivity," says student Anushay Hussain. "The workshops are an extremely inspiring effort for those who want to save themselves from the darkness of hopelessness," adds student Verda Butt. "The idea of carrying out a research on such a rare studied topic in Pakistan was not only unique but zealous at the same time. It has been a great learning experience. I feel more hopeful towards my life and profession now. I hope there are more alike researches carried out in future in Pakistan and the region," says Senior Lecturer Ifrah Shah.
The pilot of the research was to strengthen the supply side of youth character building and employability by facilitating hope centered institutionalized teacher and youth training at educational institutions. To improve the demand side by instilling hope in students at all levels in making educated and informed career decisions. The implication of the study is a source for socio- economic think tank to re-strategize educational policy.
Based on the pilot study program, hope should be introduced as an elective in the university's and school curriculum nationally and globally in order to make a sustainable impact leading to optimistic graduates prepared to face the challenges of work in the 21st century. Imparting hope in youth leads to social justice for a safer global world. Establishment of a hope centered foundation is the need of the hour that inspires humanity, irrespective of race, gender, age, religion and disability.
People from all walks of life should be optimistic and should strive for growth and an agile mindset. They should have self-confidence and belief in themselves and the future, especially at times of adversity. Therefore they should collaborate with professionals that are hope torch-bearers around the globe. The knowledge is available, let's use it.
Extracted from The World Book of Hope
Raza Abbas is the founder of professional career counseling and career guidance in Pakistan. He earned his dual degrees from The University of Arizona. Amongst speaking at numerous premier international and national forums, he is honored to have presented his research at the Inaugural UNESCO Chair on Lifelong Guidance and Counseling Conference at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He focuses on hope-centered interventions, teacher training, career guidance, youth capacity building, and social entrepreneurship.