by Syed Talal and Aadil Shadman
One of the best things about writing on the technology sector is that you get to see new tech and projects being launched and often know about them before anyone else. An unfortunate consequence is that you have to see promising projects die because of poor execution and management, particularly in the government sector.
Today, the Federal government announced one such promising project that we’re very excited about (and which could suffer from an early demise if not done right) and that’s the National Job Portal (NJP).
The idea behind NJP is solid and if it doesn’t fulfill its potential, it will be a massive loss to the country.
So today, we’re going to lend a helping hand and discuss how the Federal government can make the National Job Portal a success.
The Only Portal for Government Jobs
The NJP should be the only portal used to hire for government jobs. It shouldn’t matter whether the jobs are provincial, federal, defense or in any other government sector. NJP is a great opportunity for the government to centralize the entire government job process and start moving away from print ads, which cost millions of rupees.
As the portal matures, there will always be a pool of qualified candidates which can be targeted and the people themselves won’t need to search on the internet or scour newspapers to find which government jobs are available.
Since government jobs are disproportionately popular in Pakistan, it will also be a great unique selling point to spur adoption of NJP.
Link the Job Portal with Testing Services
NJP should be linked with testing services so that employers have an immediate way to sort out potential candidates without any additional verification steps.
HTC’s Educational Testing Council was an excellent step which provided students with a free way to prove their aptitude to universities. It was abandoned without any reason by the HEC Chairman, Tariq Banuri, earlier this year and as a result, NTS and its costly services are the only remaining solution for students.
However, that also represents an opportunity. NJP should have a wider scope and the govt should talk to various sectors and ask them how they conduct their hiring and how that process can be made smoother, quicker and easier. NJP should take ETC’s work a step forward by designing free tests for all the major sectors in Pakistan whether they are tech, manufacturing or others.
This will allow candidates to demonstrate their job readiness and since it will be linked with NJP, good candidates will be connected immediately with potential employers.
Make Job Centers
A government-backed online job portal is a great idea. However, it is only going to serve the computer literate and those who have access to the internet. What about the millions of people who can’t read or write and work in blue collar jobs? The laborers, repairmen, sweepers and countless others?
The government should establish job centers in all major cities (and rural areas later on) to register such workers. This is a model which can be lifted straight from the UK. Job centers in major cities in the UK offer all kinds of job seekers a way to register themselves and find new jobs.
The NJP project should be extended to build such centers and through the use of touch screens, accessible design and a focus on customer service, even the illiterate will be able to register themselves and find new jobs. Another interesting thing that can be done is to register an NTN for everyone applying through the job centers and make it a requirement for online job seekers as well.
This will bring everyone under the tax net and the government won’t have to resort to shortsighted measures like increasing the duty and tax on smartphones.
Make Actual Use of the Data
Pakistan has a lot of job portals – both paid and free. But I don’t really see them effectively using the data they harness.
The team at NJP will be talking with employers, employees and even foreign companies as they strive to make it the premier job portal of Pakistan. In the process, they’ll gather a lot of data through surveys, consultations and as a natural part of being a job bank. This data will allow them to paint a true snapshot of the employment landscape in Pakistan.
Even now, there’s a lingering perception that Pakistani kids have two “respectable” paths – either become an engineer or a doctor. This perception has destroyed countless careers and it can be changed if the government publishes yearly data, salary ranges, progression paths and numbers on the job market. NJP can help them do this.
Imagine a list of current and upcoming “hot” fields generated with data from millions of job seekers, thousands of companies and industry and academia consultation. Imagine up-to-date data on the skills in demand in Pakistani companies today. Imagine bootcamps and workshops which don’t reinvent the wheel but are part of a cohesive strategy to train people who’ll build the Pakistan of tomorrow.
NJP can do this and much more. Now it just needs good management and leadership to fulfill its potential.