Demand-driven skills training to help Pakistan reap fruits of CPEC

IRM CEO sees huge gap in readiness to benefit from CPEC, other mega initiatives

Zafar Bhutta March 02, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Demand-driven skills training with cooperation between public and private sectors is the key to equipping Pakistan’s youth with critical skills that will provide them with jobs and allow the country to extensively reap fruits of CPEC projects.

“Effective training of the youth is pivotal if Pakistan wants to reap maximum benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)-related projects,” said Roomi S Hayat, CEO of the Institute of Rural Management (IRM), in an interview with The Express Tribune.

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IRM is called Pakistan’s largest training institute that is making efforts to build capacity of rural communities, especially the youth and women. On average, more than 20,000 people from across Pakistan are trained every year at the institute’s Vocational Training and Educational Centres in 500 modern trades.  So far, the institute has trained more than 1.1 million people.

“Despite our efforts to have close liaison with the government for collaborative training programmes, there is less enthusiasm and willingness on the part of the government to realise their importance in relation to the opportunities arising from CPEC projects,” Hayat said.

“This is high time for us that we reflect on our preparations for CPEC. I see a huge gap in our readiness to benefit from CPEC or other mega development initiatives,” Hayat remarked.

Ironically, most of the training programmes at government and private levels were taken for granted which compromised utility of the initiatives, he said, adding the IRM had designed a standardised training curriculum.

He pointed out that according to evaluation reports of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and US Agency for International Development (USAID), about 74 to 80% trained people from the IRM were utilising their skills through small-scale businesses or employment in both private and public sectors.

“Though apparently Pakistan’s economy is growing steadily, at micro level, especially in the context of rural communities, no substantial measures are being taken to bring them on board by providing essentially required skills, especially for the youth and women,” Hayat said. Since rural communities largely depend on farming, most of the IRM’s training programmes are designed while keeping this trend in view.

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Given the impact of climate change, Hayat underlined the need for diversifying such training programmes so that rural communities would be sensitised about the bigger challenge.

He suggested that governments at both provincial and federal levels should launch massive awareness programmes for the rural communities to help them cope with the devastating scenario emerging in the wake of rapid climate change across the globe.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2018.

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