In Pakistan, the youth population accounts for more than 50% of the total population. From amongst those with access to higher education after completing 12 years of education a large proportion is enrolled in the traditional 2-year BA degree that is outdated and has little to no market value. The prevailing high unemployment rate is strongly related to the lack of connection between the degrees being offered and the required human resource.
The Community College model of providing higher education and lower-level tertiary education, granting certificates, diplomas and associate degrees to develop well trained and certified workers across the country has been implemented with great success across USA, UK and other nations. Community colleges offer high quality education with technical expertise at a low cost and in a flexible manner. The focus in on developing marketable and industry-driven skills to fulfill the dearth of skilled human resource in various arenas of industry.
The Punjab Higher Education Commission, (PHEC) in collaboration with the Higher Education Department (HED), Govt. of Punjab and the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) has launched a pilot Community Colleges Program in Pakistan’s Punjab province. The aim of the initiative is to:
- Increase access to higher education
- Improve quality of education by bringing structural reform in the college sector
- provide affordable skills-based education
- build a professional workforce that has high employment value
The proposed pilot project is the first step towards providing2-year associate degrees in practical and employable fields of studies to prepare students to enter the job market and produce a skilled work force as per the international community colleges model. In the first phase of this program four (04) colleges were selected from the Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Multan divisions. In the second phase (05) colleges from the remaining divisions of Punjab have been added. The existing infrastructure, equipment and teaching staff of the selected colleges has been used to launch the project in the following areas of studies. More areas are expected to be added as the program expands.
- Associate Degree in IT (Specialization in Networking/Web Technologies)
- Associate Degree in Commerce (Specialization in Accounting & Finance)
- Associate Degree Mass Communication (Specialization in Media Studies)
- Associate Degree in Fine Art (Specialization in Textile Design)
A PC-1 worth Rs.96.228 million has been approved by the Govt. of Punjab for the support of this initiative which will include local and international training sessions, establishment of labs and other items.