The government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed on Monday an agreement to launch a $3.9 million initiative to empower more than 20,000 youths in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P)
The initiative will help improve employment prospects and promote social cohesion through positive interaction amongst youngsters belonging to underprivileged communities.
"The youth represent the future of Pakistan," said UNDP Pakistan Country Director Ignacio Artaza. He added that the growing population of youth in Pakistan posed great challenges as almost 1.8 million jobs need to be created every year in order to employ these youths. Artaza also thanked the Japanese government for teaming up with the UNDP for the cause of creating employment opportunities for Pakistani youngsters.
Japanese Ambassador Takashi Kurai said a large population of Pakistan was comprised of youth and it was critical for the development of Pakistan to create sources of income for them. "Japan will continue to support the youth so that they can take the lead in development of this country [Pakistan]," the ambassador said.
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Through the youth empowerment project, residents of underprivileged areas in Sindh and K-P would receive training in demand-driven skills so that they are able to get jobs in local industries. The project also aims to enhance social interaction of youths in areas that currently have a limited scope for social and economic engagement by developing youth-friendly community spaces.
Around 31% of Pakistan's 207.7 million population comprises people aged between 15 and 29 years. With a youth unemployment rate of 10.8%, it is crucial to provide youngsters with skills and knowledge they need to operate in an increasingly competitive employment market so that they can contribute to the sustainable development of the country.
The project announced by the UNDP and Japanese government also aligns with the Vision 2025 announced by the federal government and would help Pakistan achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by engaging young people and providing them employment opportunities.
The UNDP and Japanese government have also collaborated on earlier in projects in Pakistan including relief and rehabilitation work in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and electoral reforms at the national level.
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