WHERE THE contribution of all important sectors is important in the development of a state, the role of technicians is equally vital which has vividly been established in the face of the progress in economy, science and technology and other areas of the developed countries. However, coming of such things to Pakistan regrettably is still a distant dream. The country is presently facing a grave shortage of manpower in technical and vocational education as only 255,636 students are enrolled in 3,125 different vocational education and training institutes set up across the country. A recent report released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Pakistan has 64 technicians per one million population, while the same figure for the technically advanced countries is in the range of 1,500 to 2,500. It is quite notable here that the National Science Technology and Innovation (STandI) Policy 2012 had earlier mentioned that despite the establishment of Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TECTA) in Punjab and National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTEC) at the Centre, the national requirement of technically trained personnel could not be adequately met. Presently, the main focus of the authorities concerned has been on producing engineers for which a number of engineering universities are playing a vital role. However, the official quarters are completely ignoring the constantly rising the gap between the number of engineers and technicians. The main focus of an engineer is to set guidelines for the execution of a project, while the technicians have a basic role to operate and execute the project on all practical stages. Both the professionals role is inter-related. The NAVTEC has launched a number of initiatives regarding crash programmes. It, no doubt, was a step in the right direction and it needed to be pursued more vigorously to achieve the targets, however, this is yet to be achieved as on practical front there appears no mechanism or policy on the part of the authorities in this regard. Combining with a formal apprenticeship programme in the local industrial sector should be properly patronised as it would help a lot in overcoming the problem of non-availability of technically competent manpower. The government should take a step forward to enhance technical programmes and meet the national requirements, as well as prepare a trained manpower for employment abroad. The sustainable development in Pakistan could be ensured only if the official authorities reshuffle their priorities and concentrate on producing more and more technicians. Pakistan is yet to do a lot of work and reprioritise its options in order to come at par with the developed states. But what it requires at this critical stage is to pinpoint the loopholes at the decision-making stage. Skilled manpower is desperately needed and it has to resolve this problem, otherwise, we will stand nowhere in the globe.

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