Pakistan needs skill-based youth
ACCORDING to a report, about twenty-one thousand trainees ben efited from the Prime Minister Youth Skills Development Programme in seven months of the current financial year as against twenty-five thousand during last year. The beneficiaries were trained in 100 different trades and are now contributing in local and international market.
Social scientists point out that Pakistan is going through the demographic transition, and is experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime demographic dividend as the working-age population bulges and the dependency ratio declines. The country can benefit from this dividend if focus is laid on education; public health and family planning; incentives for savings; and most importantly creation of an economic environment that encourages employment generation and labour flexibility. It is satisfying that Prime Minister’s programme for youth is aimed at, to some extent, on these objectives but understandably its achievements are dependent on practical implementation, allocation of required funds and cooperation of the Provinces in the otherwise decentralized environment. No doubt, PM’s programme would help improve income-generating prospects for the trainees but the number of beneficiaries is peanut if seen in the backdrop of 6% unemployment rate. It is understood that the Government alone cannot provide job to each and every citizen but what it can certainly do is to afford opportunities to people to equip themselves with some market-oriented skill to gain employment in local or international market. Apart from widening scope of the existing programmes, it is for planners of the Government to come out with a longterm plan to overcome the challenge. It would be in the fitness of things if Ministries of Education and Planning and Development work with Provinces to devise a comprehensive plan of action in this regard including fundamental changes in school, college and university curricular with emphasis on skill development. Improved human capital requires the science based knowledge and information skills to meet the changing needs from traditional agricultural and manufactured goods to more technologically driven agricultural and manufactured products and services.