The tastefully decorated hall of the posh hotel gave a festive look and housed visitors from different backgrounds, professions and age groups. There were students, teachers, parents, trainees and trainers from technical institutes, career counselors, industry representatives, government officials and others.
All of them were freely interacting with each other and appeared deeply involved in whatever was going around them. The level of interest was high and it seemed they had been waiting for too long to find this opportunity. While they were struggling to fit in the space available to them, there was no lets up in the arrival of more visitors who were coming in droves and trying to find way into the hall.
“I have come here to explore the career options available to students like me. You know no one guides us at school or home on which profession to join,” said Zeeshan Ashraf, a student of Bachelors of Studies (BS) in Media and Communications.
Standing next to a table displaying fresh vegetables placed in a symmetrical manner, he said he was even interested in knowing how to set up a tunnel farm and produce off-season vegetables. He said he had a passion for journalism which he would practice at any cost but it would not be his mainstay. “I would mull different options discussed here at the event and learn one of these trades so that I can set up my business as well.”
Zeeshan picked up a brochure lying on the table and placed it inside the bag hanging on his shoulder. The bag was almost full and running out of space as he had collected printed material from almost each and every stall set up inside the hall and placed it there. His intention was to weigh different options for himself as well share this informative material with his friends, relatives etc who could not come there due to any reason.
The event was the two-day Hunar Mela organized by Punjab TEVTA in Lahore on May 9-10, 2014. It was supported by the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform Support Programme, which is co-funded by the European Union, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
In total there were 60 stalls at the event and all of these provided information to the visitors on different training courses they offered.
To name a few, there were stalls representing Germany Pakistan Training Initiative (GPATI), Punjab Skill Development Fund (PSDF), Fatima Memorial Hospital, Nishat Mills Limited, Knittex Apparel (Pvt) Ltd, Style Textile (Pvt) Ltd, Pakistan Institute of Fashion & Design (PIFD), Step Institute of Art, Design & Management, Pakistan Knitwear Training Institute, Pakistan Readymade Garments Technical Training Institute (PRGTTI), Punjab Vocational Training Council, CAB International, Hashoo Foundation, Precision Systems Training Centre, The Hunar Foundation, Commercial Arts & Architecture, Textile Home Products, Textile Service Centres, Electronics & Bio-Medical, Civil & Environmental Control Tech, GPATI, MIS TEVTA and Metal, Ceramics, Agriculture trades FIT GIZ-TEVTA programme.
Iram, a student of second year, said she was interested in doing a diploma on culinary arts after taking her intermediate exams. She said before visiting the stall on this art she did not know that attaining skills in this trade could offer so many opportunities in life.
There were a lot of jobs in the hotel and hospitality industry, at restaurants, bakeries, food and beverage companies, fast food chains and so on. Besides, she said many people- especially women-had set up food businesses in their houses. They were serving customers there, supplying stuff to companies or even offering home delivery service to their clients.
Secretary Industries Punjab and Chairman TEVTA, Ali Sarfaraz Hussain went from stall to stall and inquired about the projects on display. He sought information on different trades and expressed his satisfaction over the level of professionalism shown by the attendants at different stalls. He urged the young students to adopt TVET as a career path and said it could transform their future. Besides, he praised the international donors and partners including GIZ for their continuous technical and financial support for TVET reform and supporting the Hunar Mela.
The stall on solar technology was one of the most visited ones. Here people talked to the beneficiaries of the course and the trainers about the modules and duration of the course offered. Arooj, a young girl employed at the electronics lab at Coca Cola, said she had done her Diploma in Associate Engineering (DAE) before joining this job.
Later on, she did a one-month course “Basic Training in Solar Technology” from the Government staff Training College, Gulberg. Arooj said this course launched with the support of the TVET Reform Support Programme helped her a lot at job especially when her organization started switching some of its electricity load to solar energy.
She said she had learnt how to make accurate calculations and estimates while making decisions on the installation of appropriate number of solar panels, batteries, inverters etc to meet the organisation’s energy needs. So far, she said, five 5 batches had passed out from the institute which also provided boarding and lodging facilities to the trainees.
The stall set up by the agricultural research organization CABI also attracted crowds. CABI showcased its projects including the one under which it trained 500 women from Muzaffargarh district in kitchen gardening and grain storage management free of cost. The Project Manager Naeem Aslam said they were planning to soon launch projects at new locations including Lahore. “A lot of visitors have shown interest in our courses and we have made them fill our registration forms. We will contact them as soon as we launch our projects in their respective areas,” he shared.
Dr. Julie Reviere, Programme Director Education GIZ Pakistan, said Pakistan had immense potential in the shape of youth who were vibrant and in a very large number. The real issue, she said, was how to harness their potential and utilize the youth bulge in a positive manner. She praised TEVTA for playing a key role in implementing TVET sector reform and bringing modernity and in this concept. She also praised the idea of holding the Hunar Mela which she said had helped the general public understand the importance of the TVET sector the endless opportunities it offered to promising students.
The training courses on medical dispensing, dental technology, medical technology, midwifery and physiotherapy offered by Fatima Memorial Hospital, Lahore, were of great interest to visitors. Similarly, the stall of GPATI was a crowd puller where visitors spent long time and asked questions from the attendants. They were curious about the utility of the electric scooter displayed at the stall in a country where power continues to haunt its populace.
Shaista Parvez Malik, Member National Assembly, was the chief guest of the event. She appreciated TEVTA’s role in streamlining technical and vocational education and taking landmark initiatives such as GPATI. She said this initiative would give students an opportunity to acquire technical education of international standard and later on get hands-on training at establishments of leading local and international brands.