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GEEPS 2018 Report

Panel discussion on “Future of Work & Education”

Moderator: Dr. Sumaira Rehman-Rector, Superior University


  • Prof. Dr. Raheel Qamar, Rector, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad
  • Prof. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qureshi (A.k.a Dr. ZIQ), Chairman Accreditation Committee, Punjab HEC
  • Prof. Dr. Aziz Akbar, Vice Chancellor, UET Lahore
  • Dr. Rauf-i-Azam, Vice Chancellor, University of Education
  • Maj Gen (R) Obaid Bin Zakriya, Vice Chancellor, Lahore Garrison University
  • Sajjeed Aslam, Head, ACCA Pakistan
  • Zeshan Hanif Qureshi, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Q Mobile.

Topic: Future of Work and Education

Dr. Sumaira started off by recognizing and appreciating the cause and agenda of report launch. She acknowledged the effort, work and commitment of Mr. Moazam Shahbaz for providing the platform to academia and industry to come together for discussing the possible solutions and way forward to bridge the gap between academia and industry. There has been a disconnect and mistrust between academia and industry, we should develop collective wisdom. We are looking forward to a very meaningful and relevant discussion; ‘how can we transform our education system according to the need of industry?’, both academia and industry can contribute hand in hand towards the cause.

Q. What do you believe about the future of education as a chairman of Nur University and how are you working towards that change?

Dr.ZIQ (Zafar Iqbal Qureshi)

 Chairman- Nur International University

This question is quite tricky, I think we need a consensus of academia and industry. When we are talking about change, we need to understand the demographics of our beautiful country. We have talented people everywhere in our country, in various industries. I have always been advocating that industry and academia need to work closely. As an academic leader, we always hope that industry should reach to us, which is a daydream. We, academicians, should come out of our ivory towers and need to reach out to the industry. If students are not exposed to the industry, their education is of no use. In the report, certain soft-skills are mentioned, which should be inculcated in the curriculum.

Today, we are living in the era of automation, digitization and robust system, where we need continuous improvement and updating.

There are Four (04) critical areas that would remain intact, regardless of technological advancement:

Advance cognitive skills

Technology has created tons of data and information, therefore, people are not able to solve complex industry problems. To interpret and analyze that complex and course data, we need to pull ahead in the cognitive skills.

Socio-behavioral skills

Graduates have to learn teamwork, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, and combination skills, both in the horizontal and vertical work environment. We are following HEC criteria, there is no room for innovation, we should find innovative areas for graduates.

Future managers would need the following education:
i. Graduates should be introduced to different philosophers and historical perspectives.
ii. General and technical skills both would be equally important. General Skills would be more beneficial for students.

Thinking Skills

This area is totally neglected by academia, there is no course to promote thinking skills. Edward de Bono, a neurosurgeon, believed that you have to develop the other areas in your students than the ones explored by Socrates, Plato (Greek Philosophers) and also shape up horizontal and lateral thinking.

We should have teachers, who should be the role models for the class, we are not experimenting multiple pedagogical skills in the classroom. Faculty development should be an ongoing process. We need to promote a set of values and character by instilling the importance of time. As Peter Drucker, management guru, said that we can’t buy time from the shops, we can’t freeze time, the time wasted is time lost. The effective time management would contribute towards the GDP and per-capita income of our country.

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed”
Peter Drucker


Teachers should be held accountable to exhibit the self-modeling of discipline, that’s how students will learn.
As Bulleh Shah said,!! کی جاناں میں کون ‘Ki Janan Me Kon’ (Who am I?),
we should make our students cognizant about their self-exploration and self-actualization conquest.

We have been hearing pessimist views about academia, where UET has been considered as a prime institution with a long history of providing the quality graduates to industry, how you are devising the plans for education by realizing the technological revolution?

 Dr.Aziz Akbar

Thank you for providing me opportunity to speak about the system at UET, we have introduced the Outcome Based Education (OBE) in the past few years, students are shared with the course objectives and learning outcomes with the industry visits and simulations at the beginning of course. Due to OBE, our most courses are accredited by Washington, DC accreditation system.  We have rigorous research system in our university, in Pakistan the real obstruction towards research is the audit system, we have brought many procurement changes for the research audit. We have developed procurement cell for the advance and smooth research system in our university, locally and globally. Few years back, even a BS graduate can get opportunity as a lecturer, now we have enhanced the criteria to PhD for assistant professor. I can reckon that the future of education is really positive and bright.

What kind of model you are inculcating in your university for 4th industrial change?

Dr. Rauf-i-Azam
VC- University of Education

We are primarily the education university, where we focus on education as a subject and produce teachers. We sit at the center of whole problem, I must say, (laughter) but this shouldn’t be the blame game between academia and industry. We have to improve quality but we have to improve the whole ecosystem that requires higher commitment, quality and system. This revamp includes the whole society at large, if we consider the characteristics we need as a human to succeed, knowledge would not come as high as we perceive. If we ask students what you want to learn, they must take leave and it would invariably be the same in every class. As a society we procrastinate on the continuous improvement. We have introduced the technology to solve the academic gaps, we are using technology for admissions, the following processes at university also include technological interventions for communication; internally and with the stakeholders. We are collaborating with many international bodies and leading universities for research, quality and teaching skills. We are striving for change but our input comes from school and colleges which have annual examination system, where it is totally different in university. The real dilemma comes with the educational bifurcation between college and university academic system. It’s the ecosystem which has accumulated circular debt; the term which has been used in other fields, but we have accumulated circular debt in the education as well. We have to change this scenario together; both academia and industry, instead of blaming each other. We should sort out to develop collective wisdom and learning ecosystem.

How can we enable and empower the future of our graduates and nurture their entrepreneurial skills? How LGU is equipping their students with the entrepreneurial skills?

Maj Gen ( R ) Obaid bin Zakriya

It is the matter of creating jobs for small number of groups, industry and academia both should play their part. We tried to reach to industry and tried to create a collaborative environment, but unfortunately, we didn’t get any response. I am an ardent believer in collaboration and cooperation and we are looking for ways, where we could develop more collaborative avenues. Last time, when I met with the fellow Vice Chancellors of various universities, most of us didn’t know each other, surprisingly. So first, we need to get together with the academicians and educationists and then we should find a way forward. I have faith in my faculty and the cake is so big that we can’t whole of it and I also have faith in Almighty that whatever is destined to you would not be shared with other, I will get my piece by any mean.

What do you think and what do you reckon that future of work is going to be and I believe that whatever the future of technology would be, it could not take over the human potential, what do you think? How ACCA is working towards that change?

Sajjeed Aslam
Head – ACCA Pakistan

I belong to the professional body of ACCA, a global community of professional accountants, it’s operating in 180 countries, our model is different with half a million students and two thousand members. The one learning in the period of 115 years old organization, if we talk about the history of ACCA, the focus of education can only be human being. There could not be any other focus, once you come to the educational environment, you are focusing on human beings to develop them. Then we have to create the ecosystem around the need of human beings, whether we talk about engineers or accountants. That’s the ecosystem which creates values for the human beings in the society or economy. Even supporting industry, is a process of supporting your fellow human being. When we come to technology, this is not the first time human beings are evolving. Human beings are the most resilient specie on this planet right now. There were many other revolutions which have happened, previously. Just the speed of revolution is changed now and human beings have to catch up that pace. You have rightly picked up that jobs will evolve, as after the invention of steam engine everything has evolved. As Fatima (Fatima Asad-Said) said, ‘it is not human being who is becoming obsolete, it is the skillset.’ We spend millions of dollars in our organization for conducting the research to observe the future evolutions. We assess ethical and professional competencies of our students in the exams along with business acumen. 70% of learning is by doing, so we provide practical experience to the students before awarding them degree.  This is the qualification they have to maintain, if they lose it, they have to go back to the elementary step. This is how we are inculcating the technology and human part in our education system.

Q. What is your opinion on employability skills as an employer?

Mr. Najeeb
CEO- ABB Pakistan

I have been listening very pessimistic views about our education system today. I have been in the Middle East for 16 years and I feel proud of our graduates, who are working globally on very key positions.  We have to transform ourselves with the technology but you should also work on our soft skills. We have to see the things from both technology side and human side. We are doing major transformations in the technological perspective. We are a Swiss based-engineering organization, we are doing major transformation at group level. The future is industrial digitalization, global manufacturers of robotics are even using robots for the manufacturing of robots. There is no doubt that there is some fear for the domination of robots in the industry but we have to work on our human skills to move forward. Recently some surveys have stated that in 2030; 60% of the jobs advertised do not exist today. Those jobs would be related to data analysis, mobile internet, Internet of Things, etc. We have to prepare ourselves for these transformations, we don’t have much time for transitions. For me, the most important thing among the all others mentioned in the survey is; integrity. We should work it from the beginning-from childhood, there should be good parental guidance, we can bring change at work.  We are working with various universities in Pakistan for faculty development and have developed simulation laboratories. Industry is very much open for helping the academia.

What are your perspectives on the future of job market in Pakistan considering automation taking place in industry, academia is not coping up with the pace of industry?

Zeshan Hanif Qureshi
Group Chief Marketing Officer – Q Mobile

When we talk about industry, we also talk about the quality of graduates we are producing. If we put raw material as a sugar, you cannot expect output as salt, it should be sugar. Ten years ago, mobile phones were luxury not necessity, now it is necessity. Everything is evolving around technology, when we say that our graduates are not up to the mark, we are expecting them to be cooperative and collaborative. There, the need for the collaboration and cooperation of academia and industry arises. I am also a product of this academic system, so we should not complaint, as I have also come this far. The skills are more important than grades, the graduates don’t have opportunities for skill development. People from industry should go to the academia and teach there. Practical skill-set is very important.

Q. The education budget hasn’t given priority in any political regimen? What is the future of education in Pakistan? What government should do to transform the educational landscape of Pakistan?

Dr. Raheel Qamar
Rector- COMSATS University, Islamabad

As Vice Chancellor of UET mentioned earlier, all universities are moving to Washington Accord and moving to organization systems, where we are motivated to produce graduates more relevant to industry. There is one important thing which we haven’t discussed yet, while the other pertinent points have been raised, which you alluded earlier that what is going to be the future of universities? I am very passionate about this subject and I am talking at the various platforms about it that the brick and mortar universities are disappearing in the future. There would be more online education, e-learning and virtual universities. We have multiple discussions at HEC, they are reluctant to implement it, as HEC thinks that our graduates are not prepared for it. According to HEC, pedagogy is very important, our students have been into the process of hand-holding and rote learning since the beginning. We don’t teach our kids the practical skills, therefore, I recommended hybrid learning to HEC. We’ve been implementing this for last 02 years, for some courses we have gone to online flip classroom teaching. We have recorded the lectures of our veteran teachers, which students can access at their homes. We have created virtual classrooms, some of these are monitored and some are unmonitored. Students come to online spaces, to clarify their concepts and get help from the teachers. When we implemented it initially, we faced lot of problems, there was rigidity and the transfer of knowledge was not effective even. We looked into the problem, the reason was students’ much penetration into social media. We integrated our learning into all these social media platforms and we saw a massive shift in the response and massive upsurge of interest into these programs. Our children are not goofs, they have quickly adapted the virtual learning system and moved on with this. PEC has recognized our program and verified our regulatory process. I have been part of HEC university-industry liaison committee and we witnessed the persistent reluctance from industry in the dovetail process. Both academia and industry neither acknowledge nor understand each others’ problems. Academia does not understand that industry needs the solution in the meantime. We started taking our students into the established business centers of our seven campuses, spreading in the Northern areas. They develop the business ideas and start-up plans, we fund the prototype in the final semester and we take them into the incubator rightly after their graduation. We have 28 companies in the incubator, 38 companies have been graduated. The documented annual turnover is 400 million rupees. This is the way to the future, our new mantra is; ‘produce job-providers’ not ‘job-seekers’.

The fourth industrial revolution is going to bring a drastic change in the industry, it is unlike the revolution where carts and automobiles both were functional, simultaneously. Ultimately the production of saddle was ceased and automobiles took over the transportation. This revolution would be so sporadic that we couldn’t comprehend what has happened, when IoT cloud, artificial intelligence would take over, you’ll see large industries disappearing. Here, I would like to quote two personal experiences. Once my centrifuge lid stopped working, I am a biologist by profession, I asked the manufacturer to change the lid. He responded that it would take 02 months and I would charge 200$ to change the lid. I have a 3D printing laboratory, I asked them to help me, they produced the lid in three days and it is stronger than before. Imagine how much it costed? It costed me just 40$ approximately in Pakistani rupees. I have another centrifuge, student put disbalanced load in that, its shaft was tilted, I gave the shaft to mechanic and asked him to repair the shaft and print the rest part in 3D. They did it in one week, manufacturer was asking me 1000$ for that, while it costed me around 50$. This is where we are moving ahead, we will be printing our accessories from shoes to clothes and everything. This is the disruption which cause industry to change its dynamics and also compel us to change our ways of living. We are not ready about this, please accept and embrace digitization.

Q. How do you foresee the future of jobs in Pakistan?

Salman Rawn
Managing Director- Master Beverages & Foods Ltd.

I have been heading Coke and Pepsi in South Asia in last 15 years. We don’t see there are shortages of jobs, there are shortages of right fits. We are moving from cars to SUVs and from simple aircrafts to dreamliners, but we don’t have sufficiently skilled pilots. Universities are producing masses not products for the industry. We receive dozens of CVs irrelevant to our required criteria.  When I started working in retail, we didn’t have retail education in our country. I have met different CEOs and clubs, we don’t find the perfect match in the organizations. We have to hire employees from outside the country. The bridge between academia and industry is missing which is the need of hour to bridge that gap.

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