PTI government has taken a good decision to create more jobs for the people. Rising unemployment is a serious issue. According to a recent survey, unemployment rose to 8.3% during 2015-17, the highest level in 13 years. The number of unemployed people in Pakistan now is said to be 1.5 million higher than in 2013. The last time the unemployment rate was so high was in fiscal 2002, when it stood at 8.3% during the early years of the Musharraf administration. During the entire period of Zardari regime, the unemployment rate went up by only 1%, rising from 5.2% in 2008 to 6.2% in 2013. By contrast, the unemployment rate has increased by more than twice that much during 5 years of the PML-N government.
At the end of fiscal 2016, the unemployment rate jumped to 7.3%, as 800,000 more people joined the ranks of the jobless due to the slow economic growth rate of only 4%. The pool of unemployed people had increased to 4.6 million by June 2015. During the fiscal year 2017, another 700,000 people were added to the unemployed population and the unemployment rate stood at 8.3%. The pool of unemployed people has grown to 5.3 million, as the government again missed its economic growth rate target of 5.1%. According to various independent and official studies, Pakistan needs an annual growth rate of at least 7% to create enough jobs to absorb new entrants into the labour market. The ranks of the unemployed are expected to rise by another 400,000 people in fiscal 2018, taking the additional number of jobless people to 1.9 million. The unemployment rate is expected to jump up to 8.6%, a number that could be even higher if the government's target growth rate is missed.
As the economy is not growing at the required pace, finding jobs has become a serious problem for a majority of the people, especially the youth. As we all know, government jobs are few and far between, while in the private sector, opportunities are shrinking due to the slowdown in industrial growth caused by energy shortages and security issues. Karachi is the economic engine of Pakistan but for many years it has not been working to its full potential. Pakistan has numerous natural resources but the problem is that they are not being fully utilized.
To fight unemployment, we need to speed up the pace of industrial development in the country. To this end, energy supply should be sufficiently augmented to feed the existing industries and encourage the establishment of new ones. The government also needs to promote the establishment of small industries in the undeveloped areas, an initiative which has been found to be a good solution to the unemployment problem in many countries. Agroindustry is another sector whose development can go a long way to absorb the youth bulge in the rural areas. Side by side, steps should be taken to reshape the education structure in Pakistan to produce more specialized and technically qualified manpower to fill the skills gap in many sectors of the economy.
For this purpose more technical training institutes need to be established all over the country. Previously, the government launched self-employment schemes to tackle joblessness among the youth. The scope and range of these schemes were limited and they could not make an impact due to corruption. A growing economy is the best insurance against rising unemployment. For this purpose, the new government should do perspective planning, focusing on areas with the highest potential for job creation. In this context, agro-industries need special attention.