More jobs

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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