ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Education Muhammad Balighur Rehman on Tuesday informed the Senate that Higher Education Commission (HEC) had awarded 687 scholarships for PhD during 2015-16. He said that scholarships worth Rs 558 million including 415 foreign and 272 local in various disciplines were awarded. The minister said that the HEC had a programme under which guaranteed jobs were provided to PhD holders on their return to Pakistan. Majority of the scholars returned to Pakistan after completion of their studies abroad, he added. However, he said action was taken against those who did not return to serve their country.Replying to a query, he said that the government through National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) was focusing on CPEC specific training. He said that the NAVTTC was providing hands-on skills to 25,000 youth, which had been now increased to 50,000 under prime minister’s 39 Youth Skill Development Program. He said numerous short term skill development courses of construction, hospitality and service sectors were prioritized, adding currently, the program was being run in 333 public and private sector institutes across the country.Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Pir Sadaruddin Shah Rashidi informed the upper house that Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) had been signed with Republic of Korea, Bahrain and Kuwait to send skilled and unskilled labour to these countries. He said that the government was actively pursuing the case of Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia and hopefully their salaries will be released next month.