Changing Trends By: Parvez Rahim


Few years back, life-long employment in a company was considered to be a matter of pride for many people. A person who once joined government service would never think of leaving it till he retired. The story did not end there, as the person would want at least one of his children to be employed in the same government department. Recently, I happened to pass by a bungalow in the railway colony at Garhi Shahu, Lahore, where my family had lived from 1957 to 1961. At that time, the house was divided into two portions and our neighbour was a guard in the railways. His family was already living there when we moved into the house in 1957. We came to know that the guard’s father, who had retired from the railways also as a guard, lived in the same house. The nameplate outside the house read that a son from the third generation of the family also worked in the railways as a guard and lived in the same house even now.

Spending a long time in the same job may still be the trend in government organizations, but it is definitely not the situation in the industrial and commercial world. In the past, it was common to find persons who had worked for 30 or may be 40 years for the same company. In fact, their circle of friends would associate them only with that company and could not imagine them working for some other organization. They would proudly display the awards received by them from the company in recognition of their long service.

At that time, the approach to getting professional education was also different. Some four decades ago, parents of students used to play the dominant role in their career selection, especially boys’ parents. This critical juncture in their life would come when they passed the matriculation examination. Choosing a profession other than that of medicine or engineering was despised by parents irrespective of their son’s aptitude. A doctor would desire that at least one of his children obtained a degree in medicine. This attitude of parents would in most cases turn out to be disastrous as the person for whom a social science subject would be a better choice for success in the life would fail miserably to pursue a career in medicine or engineering. By then it would be too late to switch over to other field.

Global trends are undergoing a sea-change, and so are the choices for adopting certain professions to earn a living

I was the first person in my family who chose arts’ subjects in the intermediate in 1962. This decision of mine without involving my parents was considered a rebellious one. During studies I was treated as an outcaste till the time I went into professional life and proved that my decision was not wrong. This example opened up more career choices for my cousins who thanked me for bringing about this revolutionary change. With the passage of time wiser parents realized that they should refrain from intervening in their children’s lives and leave it to them to take decisions regarding their careers. They did put before them their preferences but never forced them to follow their advice in selecting careers.

These days, students take guidance from the Internet, the media, friends and in some cases from career counsellors.

In modern times, young graduates, especially those studying business administration and engineering, look down upon long-term career employments. While employment opportunities are generally bleak for those having average academic records, those passing out of prestigious institutions have a better bargaining position.

In the narrow employment market, multinational companies and banks prefer to hire graduates from prestigious institutions like the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI). Their graduates can be termed as the “cream of the nation”.

Starting their career as management trainees, these young people quickly grow in the hierarchy of management. Those who develop a liking for the organization and believe that their meteoric rise is in accordance with their expectation, do not look outside. But those who are superseded by their equally ambitious colleagues grab the first available opportunity for better prospects elsewhere. In such moves, they are seldom concerned about leaving a large profit-making company to join an unknown and small enterprise. What they have in mind is the elevated position and higher salary and perks with good chances of progress in the future. At times this gamble may not turn out to be of any advantage. If that happens, they don’t feel any hesitation in going back to the previous employer subject to the latter’s willingness.

In today’s competitive environment, there is no room for mediocrity as one’s continuity in job is left entirely to the goodwill of their employer. Jobs are scarce in the market, but at the same time companies and banks are perplexed about the quick turnover of their high profile employees in whose training and development they invest fairly large amount of money.

At present, the biggest challenge faced by human resource management is attracting and retaining high calibre professionals. In order to face this challenge, progressive companies have to maintain a competitive edge over others in their levels of compensation and create a work environment which should encourage innovation and help young people’s progress in the organization.