The government has launched its flagship skills development programme worth Rs30 billion, titled ‘Hunarmand Jawan’ whereby half a million youngsters will be trained such that they can ‘step up in the real world’. Launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan at a ceremony in Islamabad on Thursday, the target of the project is to equip children with skills to make a living. The first 70 skills training centres will be set up in seminaries to equip those who, the PM says, have been always neglected and can acquire skills that let them earn a living. Thereafter, 300 smart training centres will be created where students will have access to international teachers so that their skills can be developed per global standards. Apart from skills and capacity-building training, easy loans and internships for the youth will be provided to allow the youth bulge to enter the workforce.
Though the PM claims that past governments have paid scant attention to the unemployed youth in the country, he cannot deny that there have been similar programmes in the past that have aimed at equipping the youth with the necessary skills and funds to spur employment or small businesses — the backbone of some of the most successful economies around the world. One example is the Technical and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) which was originally launched during the Musharraf regime.
The major question, however, is whether this programme has learnt anything from its predecessors and has addressed the causes of their failure. Or are we just watching history repeat itself? A couple of years ago, it emerged that for all of TEVTA’s noble efforts, some of the courses it was offering were quite outdated and put students of such courses at a greater disadvantage. Moreover, any such programme or training must prepare students to not only prepare for the jobs available today, but also for the jobs which may arise tomorrow. In this regard, students must be offered some career counseling along with skills training.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2020.
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