Abdul Rashid Shakir
Pakistan is a country with a rich demographic dividend, as 65% of its more than 220 Million population is below the age of 35 while 29% of it is in the age group of 15-25, which is the United Nations definition of youth. These stats make Pakistan one of those few countries in the world that have predominantly young population, second to Afghanistan in the South Asian region.
It goes without saying that it is the youth, rather a well-educated and trained youth which determines the future of a country. Therefore, sheer numbers are of no much significance if not exploited to the maximum by providing quality education, professional training and effective engagement opportunities.
Cognizant of the fact, the Government of Pakistan has started Kamyab Jawan Program (Successful Youth Program), a dedicated wing in the Prime Minister’s Office. Moreover, Pakistan has developed National Youth Development Framework (NYDF) in order to regulate and coordinate various initiatives aimed at the socio-economic development of youth in the country. The said National Youth Development Framework (NYDF) is perfectly in line with the United Nations System Wide Program of Action for Youth (Youth-SWAP) and Pakistan’s Vision 2025. It is modelled on a principle of 3 Es: Education & Training, Entrepreneurship and Engagement.
In Education & Training, the Government of Pakistan has launchedHunarmand Pakistan Programme (Skilled Youth Programme) under ‘Skills for All Strategy’. National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) of the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training is executing this Initiative in collaboration with provincial Technical Education and Vocational Training Authorities (TEVTAs) under the guidance of Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Programme (KJP). Under this Initiative, Pakistan is imparting professional and technical training to 170,000 youth both in conventional and high-tech trades to equip them with cutting edge technologies for playing a productive role in the socio-economic development of Pakistan. Out of 170,000 youth targeted to be trained under this Programme, 50,000 urban youth would be trained in high-tech trades, 50,000 youth of less developed areas would be trained in conventional trades, 20,000 youth would be imparted apprenticeship training, whereas 50,000 youth would earn professional certificates under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
Besides capacity building of youth through technical and Vocational training, the Government of Pakistan is also focused on improving its Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system to ensure quality training of its abundant human resource. The Government has planned to establish a National Accreditation Council for the accreditation of 2,000 TVET institutes. It is also working on developing 200 Standard National Qualifications, besides establishing 75 Smart Class Rooms for distance learning. It is also setting up training facilities in 70 Madrassas (Religious seminaries) in order to mainstream them in the national development stream. Moreover, Pakistan plans to develop 10 Country of Destination Specific Facilitation Centers to enable its skilled youth to grab rewarding employment opportunities in those countries.
In Entrepreneurship, Pakistan has initiated Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) In collaboration with National Bank of Pakistan and 20 other commercial banks to provide subsidized business loans for young entrepreneurs who want to start a new business or expand an already-existing one. Within almost a year since the launch of Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) In October 2019, 2,919 loans worth PKR 1.3 Billion have been disbursed among potential young entrepreneurs. Out of 2,919, 36% loans have been disbursed among existing businesses who want to expand their operations, whereas 64% borrowers are those who intend to start a new economic venture. 84% of the 2,919 borrowers are male while 16% of them are female. Major sectors in which loans have been approved include auto, fashion/cosmetics/jewellery, shop keeper, retailer/super store, dairy, education services, technically services workshop, pharmaceutical and medical services.
In Engagement category, Pakistan has notified first of its history, National Youth Council (NYC), comprising of prominent young leaders in different walks of life including business, IT, Show biz, sports and politics. National Youth Condo (NYC) is headed by the Prime Minister, Mr. Imran Khan himself,and is mandated to provide input for effective policy formulation for the socio-economic development of youth in the country.
Another flagship initiative of the Government of Pakistan to engage youth in social work, and coordinate with the local administration to ensure better service delivery to the public is Prime Minister’s Youth Tiger Force. Under the initiative, more than one million youth across length and breadth of Pakistan has registered themselves through online portal to assist local government authorities to ensure effective monitoring and seamless delivery of civic services to the public.