Why choose Textile Sciences over Engineering and Medicine?

The most concerning matter for a fresh university grad is: getting a job. Which, living in a struggling economy like Pakistan, is a tough nut to crack. With the unemployment rate hovering at 6.2% and the GDP growth rate to slow down to 2.8% in 2020, according to World Economic Outlook 2019 report by IMF, and with about 50,000 unemployed engineers already in the job market, according to a PEC report, finding a job is going to get tougher in the next few years.

Despite fresh doctors faring better than engineers in the job market, many aspirants are often left heartbroken when it dawns upon them that medical colleges and universities select only the best of the best, constantly asking for aggregates over 80. As a result, thousands of students switch over to commerce (already having lost engineering as an option, due to the structure of the medical syllabus in HSC), begrudgingly. Even with those employed, the agony seldom ends. The issues of wages, pensions and regulations mostly keep doctors and the government at odds, as evident by frequent protests and strikes.

But there’s hope. Hope in the form of Textile Sciences.

It might seem strange at once, but despite the recession and high unemployment; Textile Science, Textile Design and Textile Engineering graduates get placed fairly quickly after final semester exams, in many cases, even before them.

One can’t help but wonder how could this happen, it should mean that the industry suffers from an acute shortage of textile graduates. According to a survey, the industry only has 62% of the graduates it needs to run and expand its operations in a changing world, a rare but real case of an under-saturated market for graduates.

The reason for this disparity is the nature of this industry in this region. The Indian Subcontinent relied heavily on manual labour for one of its most important industries, hence a sizable population of highly skilled workers and managers was developed. In contrast, engineering and medicine owed much of their existence to the developed world, hence no indigenous workforce developed via traditional methods. After the 1947 split, Pakistani textile mills continued to function well in a post-WWII world with little competition and bottlenecks. Hence, skilled labour without university education found itself well placed under few educated managers. The fact that most universities developed or started textile programs as late as the late-90s, graduating much smaller numbers than in other traditional engineering areas, stands testament to their lack of need.

But as times changed, China emerged as a mass-manufacturing hub, Bangladesh emerged as another hotspot and India stepped up its production in a world marred by trade wars, protectionism and recessions. Pakistan found itself losing markets due to high costs and electricity shortages.

University-educated textile graduates are a remedy that the textile industry banks upon to steer them out of crisis and to a stable condition.

What does a career in Textile Sciences/Engineering/Design offer to a college student?

The most important perk is immediate employment. Other aspects are a handsome salary and benefits comparable to that of other engineering areas. Another important factor is the opportunity to work with renowned brands, IKEA and H&M to name a few, and develop your profile for further progress in Pakistan and abroad.

How does Pakistan stand to benefit from Textile graduates?

Pakistan is the 8th largest textile exporter in the world, the textile sector constitutes 8.5% of the GDP and employs 38% of the workforce, according to a report published by the State Bank of Pakistan. Pakistan intends to exploit the abundant human talent and existing educational infrastructure to increase its output of value-added goods, conduct R&D in the existing business areas and invest in superior inspection procedures and machinery.

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