Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Inc., with a net worth of $22.4 billion is the 41st richest man in the world. He is a university of Texas-Austin drop-out! Sir Lee Ka-shing is a Hong Kong business magnate with a personal wealth of US$ 21 billion. He is the world’s largest operator of container terminals and is chairman of the board of CK Hutchinson Holdings. He had to leave school at the age of 15…

Swedish business magnate Ingvar Kamprad with a net worth of $43.2 billion is the 8th richest man in the world. He is the founder of IKEA. He was raised on a farm and started his business life by selling matches as a young boy! Karl Albrecht with a personal wealth of $23.5 billion is the founder of discount supermarket chain Aldi. He has no higher education!

Amancio Ortega with a net worth of $23.14 billion owns 59.9% of Inditex Group-brands Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershkaetc. - his business model was taught in many business schools. His father was a miner and he had to leave school at the age of 14 so HAS no higher education! This information suggests that the doors of success are open to anyone if given the right circumstances, and having a traditional form of higher education is not mandatory for any such achievements.

Unlike the favourable environment in the West towards such investments, the same appears to be difficult to apply in Pakistan due to high level of corruption, lack of facilities, planning and, as a result, lack of motivation. On top of that, there is not much career guidance for the majority of the youth who, in the beginning of their academic study, tend to believe that higher education will give them a prosperous future. However, after having the degree in hand they find no equal job. This leaves them vulnerable and also affects their self-esteem.

I believe that there is a lot of economics involved in this process from the moment one takes a decision to embark on the course of higher education and thus requires to have awareness of the monetary as well as social factors and their feasibility (i.e. if the relevant jobs are available, the kinds of pay scale attached to the degree etc.). For instance, when our children go to academic institutes, there are a number of economic sacrifices that families have to make. These involve heavy sum of the tuition fees, the opportunity costs of the children being employed in some work i.e.  the wages forgone, the cost of study material needed, the travelling costs and boarding and lodging (if the students have to stay out of home etc.). Sadly the educational decisions, which make one go through all these challenges, are taken on whims.

Pakistan is a developing country where more than half of the population is living in poverty. Sometimes in pursuit of higher levels of education children miss the job opportunities for which a lesser level of education would suffice - we see several examples when the students with a postgraduate degree are applying for clerical jobs, therefore many students have to face dejection when they do not manage to achieve their dream jobs. On one hand we see a dearth of competent workforce in various important sectors of the economy, on the other hand, we see over-employment just to give relief to those who cannot find work.

I believe, there are two main factors that add to the problem. Firstly, opening of private universities in urban areas where inadequate teaching is another predicament. Thus, students just end up with a degree in hand with less knowledge and lesser skills than should have been gained during the course of studies. Getting a postgraduate degree has become convenient and so the value of the degree has gone down, which results in less wages and hence lowered efficiency. There is a very strong need that quality should be preferred to quantity. In order to produce real entrepreneurs who are confident in their respective fields, the universities should be actual institutes with career guidance, varying kinds of student support services and large libraries, etc.

Secondly, there is hardly any private investment coming towards establishment or uplifting of the already existing vocational training institutes. Probably because of the lack of value attached to vocational education that pushes their benefits out of focus. There is a strong need on part of the society as well as the government to make the training and education here more recognised and valuable. It must also be substantiated that these institutes produce the workforce for the industry, which is the actual backbone of an economy. The relevant government policy must be reviewed and the status of these institutes must be raised.

Finally, there is a very strong need to manage our vast human resource and guide the youth when it is time for them to enter higher education or focus on the skills sectors. It should be made to realise that having a postgraduate degree is not mandatory for a prosperous future which the majority of our youth believes. After intermediate level any decision for further study should be thought of as an investment and thus worthy of a careful thought process.