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Why is the Pakistani youth giving up on medicine and engineering?

Why is the Pakistani youth giving up on medicine and engineering?

Ameera Nadeem Iqbal
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For years, the vast majority of Pakistani parents have only viewed two career options as the pinnacle of success for their child; medicine and engineering. Today, however, that trend is undergoing a major shift with the Pakistani youth.

Pakistani society has placed the fields of medicine and engineering at the forefront of society and success. For many Pakistani’s, they were persuaded and coerced from a young age to pursue these fields with little to no attention being given to the actual interests of the individual and their capabilities. The pressure to purse these fields was so intense, that it isn’t a stretch to say that growing up, many Pakistani’s were never given the opportunity to take control of their own careers.

Within the last decade or so, there has been a shift in this trend. As the number of graduates in the medical and engineering field began to rise while the job market itself continued to shrink thanks to the flailing state of economics and politics in Pakistan, people slowly began to come to the realisation that these two options were not the safety net they used to be. With continual knowledge came the acceptance that people needed to look beyond these options at other professions.

Social media played a major role in this. The advent of social media allowed individuals to get a unique insight and exposure to other fields and provided people with different opportunities. Through social media, you were able to closely follow the lives and careers of individuals pursing fields that weren’t strictly STEM. This different insight meant that individuals were able to clear up misconceptions about other fields and closely see the types of opportunities these alternative careers were providing. This in turn would end up inspiring many to take an interest in these fields.

Additionally, the trend of wanting starting a small business or getting involved in a start up has blown up in the country. With the rise of young entrepreneurs (many fresh out of university or still studying), start-ups and co-working spaces to accommodate them, Pakistan is witnessing a major change in the job market for the youth. For millennials, the idea of a small business or start up is incredibly appealing due to the relaxed and laid back environment of such professions. The ability to dress how you want, flexible working hours and the opportunity to let your creative and innovative side flourish is what attracts young people the most. Moreover, access to greater resources means more and more people are looking into creating businesses of their own.

In addition to that, institutions across the country have begun to introduce new and innovative degrees in humanities and liberal arts. Whereas in the past, you had maybe one or two places to pursue a degree in media or film studies, almost every university and college has an array of similar degrees to offer. This increased availability made it far easier for millennials to pursue these fields.

Moreover, another factor that has caused this shift in the interests of Pakistani youth is the changing job market abroad. For many, a post-graduation dream is pursuing your profession abroad, namely in Europe or North America. However, in the United States, often the first choice for Pakistani doctors, has implemented a number of security regulations that make it difficult for Pakistani medical graduates to obtain visas with the same ease and speed as medical graduates in India or China or Eastern Europe. This has negatively impacted their ability to compete for residency spots in that country.

Similarly, in the United Kingdom, with an economy barely recovering from recession and an influx of doctors from Poland (now benefiting from EU labor regulations), has significantly reduced training and employment opportunities for Pakistani medical graduates in that country.

Today, when one talks about wanting to pursue medicine or engineering, it doesn’t hold the same footing with Pakistani youth as it used to. Although these careers are respectable and laudable in their own right, it isn’t uncommon for any Pakistani millennials to now view these careers as as old-fashioned and out-dated, especially given the myriad of options available to them today.

The emergence of new fields and a shift in the job market can be frightening but ultimately, we should choose not to fear it. Rather, we should view it through an opportunistic and positive lens because this shift may result in being highly beneficial for our society in future years.

Keep up to date with more news at ProperGaanda: The Pakistani fear of being ‘paindoo’

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