South Asia not only comprises nearly a quarter of the world’s total population but is also one of the world’s poorest regions with the lowest GDP per capita. With English language skills being regarded as important as any other technical skills across the world these days, it has become necessary for all the job seekers to understand the relationship between English learning, skills development and economic gain, especially in this part of the world.

The Shortage of Skills

It is a universal fact that the emerging economies require a skilled workforce that is able to tackle the demands of new era. In order to combat the skills gap, the governments across all countries of South Asia are launching many different initiatives. Though all countries across South Asia are potentially facing a demographic dividend, many are warning that this may become a demographic disaster if these skills initiatives fail. One of the primary reasons behind the scarcity of skills in the region is that the young people here are often served by struggling education systems at all levels, which are failing to deliver quality in both the state and private sectors.

Access to English Language Skills

Within this context, it is inevitable for us to realize the role that English has been playing over the years and will continue to play. Alongside computer literacy, English language skill has become a basic requirement for a vast majority of jobs. However, unfortunately the low access to affordable and high-quality English language and soft skills are stated across the region to be a barrier in many sectors such as retail, financial services, IT, beauty and wellness, tourism and healthcare. According to many reports, a major percentage of graduates in this region is not employable in any sector of the knowledge economy, given their English language and cognitive skills. The problem is even worse for students from smaller towns and cities across the region.

The Role of Private Sector in Solving this Problem

The private sector is doing massive efforts to meet the demand of ‘English for Employability’ materials, and combating job crisis across South Asia. Besides, the speedy uptake of modern technologies across South Asia is changing the nature of access and demand for new English learning and assessment products and services; the proliferation of smartphones being at the forefront of this technological revolution.

The British Council is working with a number of UK and South Asian partners in order to support the development of English skills for employability; the Online Placement Test (OPT) accredited by British Council and powered by being one of the recent steps in Pakistan.

What is OPT?

The Online Placement Test has been launched lately by in collaboration with the British Council. It is a scalable, quick and convenient online test that is helping job seekers in Pakistan to pinpoint the right English language skills for their job needs. OPT combines the legacy and expertise of British Council and the technical prowess of to bring an online Global Standard English Assessment for job seekers across Pakistan. Once a job seeker passes the online placement test, a badge about this achievement appears on his/her Rozee Profile which then lets the employers do an instant quantitative analysis of their English language skills. So far, the online placement test by British Council and has helped hundreds of individuals land great jobs and is expected to do a lot more in future.

You can learn more about the Online Placement Test here.

We hope that apart from such great steps by the private sector, Pakistani government also takes some serious initiatives to improve English language literacy across the urban as well as rural areas of Pakistan to bring down high unemployment ratio and ensure secure future for the country’s youth.