When the Punjab Public Service Commission announced its schedule of jobs available, the advertisement received an astounding response. The Higher Education Department (HED) Punjab has advertised 2,451 regular posts of lecturers through the PPSC—it received nearly 470,000 applicants.

While on the surface, this may seem like a positive response, that there are so many applicants who consider themselves qualified, there is a cautious lesson to this too, that the government ought to pick up. Firstly it shows just how disproportionate the ratio of jobs to qualified young people is in the country. As Pakistan plans to increase the number of university graduates in the country, it has not accounted for the fact that the economy is weak and there are just not enough jobs for qualified youth. The fact that government jobs are so coveted and considered the only path towards meritocracy reflects the failure of the corporate market and other industries in the country.

Secondly, a better look needs to be taken at the whole process of allocation of PPSC jobs. While PPSC maintains certain qualifications for its jobs, which includes a Master’s Degree MA, MSC or equivalent degree such as a BA (Hons) with 2nd Division, several qualified applicants may lose out because of the uncertainty of the application process. This year, for example, the website crashed just before the deadline, with the management giving a delayed response, causing many to lose out or damage their applications. More research also needs to be done on what the testing system is like—whether the process becomes inherently discriminatory towards certain groups of people, or whether it is creating unnecessary barriers for otherwise qualified people.

Either way, it is clear that the government needs to take a look into how the jobs available, and their testing processes, can facilitate the graduates coming out of the educational institutes, and vice versa.