Developing decent work and employment opportunities for the rising youth population remains a concern for Pakistan
nemployment is one of the world’s most pressing issues today. Unemployment among young people in developing countries like Pakistan is one of the most serious problems and a critical issue to address.
A huge number of youths who are not in job, education, or training are causing great concern. To keep track of the numbers, the term “neither in employment, education or training” (NEET) was developed. The number of young people who are not in education, employment or training as a percentage of the total youth population is known as the NEET rate. Because it includes young individuals who are not in education, employment or training, it is a more comprehensive indication of potential youth labour market participation than youth unemployment. The global NEET rate was 21.7 percent in 2015; it increased to 22.4 percent in 2020. Pakistan’s NEET rate was 29.7 percent in 2019. This indicates that there is still much work to be done.
The NEET rate was adopted as a progress indicator as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) place emphasis on long-term economic growth and productivity gains. The creation of more job opportunities, assistance for entrepreneurs and an enabling environment for new start-ups are the most crucial aspects of this. Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals highlights the importance of decent work in achieving economic development. It says, “promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.” This goal aims to “achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including young people and persons with disabilities and equal pay for work of equal value” by 2030.
The goal comprises 12 targets covering many aspects of decent work and economic growth. Target 3 says, “Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalisation and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services”. Target 5 is to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men by 2030. Target 6 is to substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training. Target 8 talks about labour rights and the promotion of safe and secure working environments.
It is critical to emphasise the percentage of people who find decent work and employment after completing trainings and internships. It is critical to address the skills mismatch between available capabilities among youngsters and market demand. It’s also vital to figure out the gender and disability ratios.
Pakistan became the first country in the world to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of its national development plan when the National Assembly passed a resolution in February 2016. Pakistan’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) on SDG implementation was released in 2019. The Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a mechanism by which countries evaluate and present their progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The executive summary of the report, Pakistan’s Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Voluntary National Review, states that the legal frameworks for SDG 8 (Decent work and Economic Growth) have been carried out. However, in the comprehensive chapter on SDG 8, it is simply indicated that about 147,000 unemployed youngsters were trained in various trades, and 81,500 unemployed youths were placed in internships under the Youth Skills Development Programme. It is critical to emphasise the percentage of people who find decent work and employment after completing trainings and internships. It is critical to address the skills mismatch between available capabilities among youngsters and market demand. It’s also vital to figure out the gender and disability ratios.
Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world and its population is growing fast with a mounting youth bulge. It is estimated that by 2050 the population will increase to 403 million. According to the government’s annual plan for 2020-21, Pakistan has the world’s ninth-largest labour force, which is growing every year. According to estimates, the country’s labour force is around 75 million people, with agriculture accounting for 44 percent of the workforce, industry 22 percent, and services 34 percent. Pakistan’s female labour force participation rate was 21 percent in 2020, which is fairly low.
It is estimated that, of all the people employed, around 55.6 percent are vulnerable or at risk of lacking decent work. This represents more than half of the overall employment. The government of Pakistan, in collaboration with the private sector, must implement policies and reforms to create opportunities for youth and ensure that they have access to decent work and employment. The most significant part is technical and vocational training, but there is a need to launch trainings that are in demand in the national and international markets. Pakistan has experienced a growth in the number of new companies that manufacture and assemble automobiles and mobile phones; this is a high-demand market that requires customised training for youth. This will also help boost manufacturing employment.
Pakistan has seen a tremendous increase in the construction sector, which has increased the demand for the services of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, solar energy technicians and masons. Specific training in these professions can be devised and offered. Successful trainees can start their own businesses, resulting in an increase in self-employment. E-commerce and freelancing are also in high demand; customised training for youth can be devised, resulting in an increase in software exports. Last but not least, developing opportunities for women and creating a gender-friendly environment in which women may work comfortably is critical.
The author is a communications specialist and a freelance writer. He is based in Rawalpindi and can be reached at: qureshiwaqasgmail.com. He tweets qureshiwaqasA