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November 28, 2020

Treading the pathway to progress

Islamabad

November 28, 2020

Islamabad : Though government of Balochistan is providing the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) services through the labour and manpower, social welfare and education department, it faces challenges such as incapacity of instructors, outdated curriculum, obsolete machinery and limited material for training. The INGOs and NGOs are also working in the TVET sector. The TVET system in Balochistan has limited access, especially to the unskilled youth.

Industrial development, a key to economic growth of any region, has not been focused upon though Balochistan consists of 44 per cent of landmass of Pakistan. Therefore, the youth unemployment rate is very high in the province.

Majority of youth in Balochistan are employed in on-farm sectors (agriculture and livestock). However, drought has adversely affected employment rate in these sectors, leaving the youth of Ziarat and Killa Saifullah districts with no option but to look for skill training.

There are opportunities for youth in vocational skills and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-related projects. Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), in this backdrop, initiated a pilot project in Ziarat and Killa Saifullah districts funded by Citi Foundation. The project focused on imparting vocational skills and expertise to the youth of Balochistan and thus, generating employment for them.

In order to identify the employable skills in the targeted districts, a comprehensive market assessment was carried out i.e. review of project documents, literature review of relevant research studies, development of research tools, sample selection, selection of research team, training of research teams on research tools, pilot testing, modification of research tools, data collection through Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) and questionnaires, data analysis, presentation of findings and recommendations.

The objective of the survey was to identify the employable skills for the youth of Ziarat and Killa Saifullah districts aged 16-24. It showed that the in-demand skills for men in the region were livestock management and artificial insemination, excavator operator/dumper driver, submersible pump/transformer repair, commercial cooking, solar and UPS repairing, mobile repairing, tailoring, submersible repair and electrician. The local women were interested in beautician services, rural poultry, machine embroidery, dress designing (cultural products) and curtain making, bedcovers and wall hanging trades.

This intervention was crucial keeping in view the ground realities of Balochistan, whose 71 per cent population live in multidimensional poverty. Economic growth in Balochistan has been stunted for a decade due to limited investment in productive streams and human resource development. Recurring droughts and groundwater depletion have severely affected the livelihood of local population. Balochistan’s human development indicators are much worse than the national average. The adult literacy rate is 37 per cent in the province with female literacy rate being just 20 percent. Only 27 per cent of students in the province complete primary education.

Balochistan consists of 44 per cent of landmass of Pakistan with population density of 35.70/km due to which low level of industrialization results in very high rate of women unemployment. The local customs and culture don’t allow the women to travel and stay for the purpose of income generation. Low level of industrialization is also one of the reasons for the high rate of unemployment in Balochistan. The vast distances to the TEVET institutions is also one of the reasons for the unskilled youth in Balochistan. The province has limited and weak TVET infrastructure as compared to other provinces of Pakistan. There are only 47 vocational skill institutes in Balochistan, majority of which are not accessible to the people living in rural areas.

The prospect of development exists in Balochistan but it faces political and development challenges. The projects like CPEC have accelerated the pace of development in the region. The corridor project is expected to not only benefit China and Pakistan but it will have positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, India and Central Asian Republics as well.

With all this in view, the assessment was carried out to identify the demand-oriented and employable skills for the youth in Ziarat and Qilla Killa Saifullah districts. The comprehensive demand and gap analysis identified the essential technical and soft skills available for the youth and need of the local and regional job markets. The research methodology was consultative and participatory. The teams developed research tools, which were reviewed by the PPAF, and carried out the survey in both the districts. The youth after undergoing the training-cum-internship programme began small income generating activities individually or got themselves placed in the relevant job market for own and family's development. Their peers emulated their success.