China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) early harvest projects have created direct employment for over 30,000 Pakistani engineers and workers, official data revealed.

Total 38,000 jobs, under early harvest projects by the CPEC, around 8,000 or less than 25 percent consumed by Chinese workers according to the planning commission. Energy projects, under the CPEC portfolio, are the major employment contributor where 16,000 Pakistanis hired as laborer and engineers. The Port Qasim Coal Power project is top of the list with job opportunities for 5,000 Pakistanis.

The Sahiwal Coal Power Plant project and Zonergy Solar Power project stand second with 3,000 jobs. Meanwhile, official sources said that between 300 and 500 engineers working on energy projects which would surely help in the transfer of know-how from the Chinese to locals. It will be useful for future execution of energy projects as Pakistan will have its own trained human resource.

The implementation of two more energy projects of Sukki Kinari and Karot will generate around 6,000 more jobs for Pakistan. “Pakistani civil and electrical engineers could grab this opportunity where hydropower projects are under execution,” said officials.

In addition to the energy sector, the CPEC transport infrastructure sector stands second in creating around 13,000 jobs for locals. The data show that 9,800 Pakistanis were working on Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Multan Sukkur section), the biggest infrastructure project under the CPEC. The data further shows that the Karakoram Highway Phase-II Havelian created jobs to 2,071 locals, the Orange Line Metro Lahore created employment for 956 and the fiber optic project created 580 jobs for Pakistanis.

The development of the free-zone project at Gwadar has created 404 direct jobs with additional 2,000 indirect employments. This project would create thousands of job opportunities for locals. The figures could grow significantly with more infrastructure projects set to begin this year. With the start of work on the ML-1 project of Pakistan Railway, Gwadar airport, Eastbay Expressway at Gwadar and other road projects, the number of jobs will further increase for Pakistanis. Framework agreements for all these projects have signed up to both sides during One-Built, One-Road summit in China last month.

“These projects could further create up to 15,000 direct jobs this year,” officials said. “All companies are trying their level best to look for regional engineers and laborers, fulfilling the social responsibility,” the officials said. In addition, CPEC projects being carried out by the Public-Sector Development Programme, particularly Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway Project, have also generated thousands of jobs for Pakistani workers.

Besides such a huge absolute employment, the CPEC projects which are in the construction phase have created thousands of indirect jobs and brought a boom in the construction industry as steel and cement manufacturers fully engaged in multiplying their production. The officials said that the industrial cooperation phase is tantamount to start soon to be a real game changer.

It estimates that the employment opportunities for local youth will maximize with the implementation of mega projects under the mid-to-long-term plan of the CPEC. The International Labour Organization has estimated that the CPEC will support to create around 400,000 jobs while the Applied Economics Research Centre has estimated that the mega project expected to create over 700,000 direct jobs between 2015 and 2030 and add 2 to 2.5 points to the annual economic growth of the country. The estimates of the planning commission show that the figure may go much higher as the CPEC would generate around 800,000 jobs over the next 15 years.