Workforce development: Marginalised youth being trained in marketable skills

The project aims to reach out to 10,000 adolescents in the province by 2015.

Our Correspondent April 29, 2014
The project has been developed and implemented in partnership with the PVTC and the Department of Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism. PHOTO: FILE


“Besides being taught how to stitch and design dresses, we have also been taught to read and write. I am extremely proud of the fact that I can write my own name in Urdu.” 16-year-old Sehrish Shehzadi, a resident of Azam Nagar, Faisalabad, said about her experience of training under the Building Young Futures project.

Shehzadi is among 600 trainees, all under 18 years of age, who have completed their year-long employment training course under the project. The graduation ceremony, held in Lahore, was organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Punjab Vocational Training Council in collaboration with the Department of Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism.

The youngest among 10 siblings, Shehzadi used to work in fields as she had not received any formal education. During her training here, she was taught basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. Shehzadi aspires to open up a training centre for girls where she could also teach them the skills she has learnt here.

The project has been developed and implemented in partnership with the PVTC and the Department of Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism.

It is also supported by the Barclays Bank. Since it began last year, hundreds of teenagers have been trained in 17 vocational training institutes in eight districts across the Punjab. The youth are given training in how to be mechanics, electricians, and beauticians. The students are also taught stitching and embroidery. The project aims to reach out to 10,000 marginalised adolescents across the province by 2015.

Department of Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism Secretary Muhammad Khan Khichi said the department was committed to improving the lives of marginalised adolescents in line with the department’s Adolescent Strategy.

Khichi said partnerships [like on this project] greatly helped the department provide vocational skills to adolescents usually excluded from the mainstream. He said the department looked forward to helping these individuals set up their own businesses and support their families.

“Adolescents belonging to marginalised communities have limited opportunities to enrol in vocational training courses that are certified by the government,” said UNICEF Child Protection Specialist Shagufta Bhatti.

Bhatti, who is also leading the project, said it gave marginalised and excluded adolescents the opportunity to gain vocational skills.

She said the project focused on improving income generation opportunities for the socially excluded and vulnerable adolescents in selected districts of the Punjab.

This it has accomplished by enabling young individuals by giving them access to skills through certified trainings in specific areas of vocational training.

The first batch of graduates has now started a two-month job placement in areas of their vocational training. A series of longitudinal case studies will be conducted to assess results achieved. The districts where the projects are being conducted include Lodhran, Mianwali, Khushab, Rahim Yar Khan, Sargodha, Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Chakwal, Lahore, Faisalabad, Hafizabad, Nankana Sahib, Sahiwal and Bahawalpur.

“Skill development is an essential element in improving the employability and potential productivity of the working poor and can be an important tool for reducing poverty,” said Faisal Ejaz Khan, the Punjab Vocational Training Council chairman. He said the training focused on combining best practices from education, social work, career counselling and technology training. He said the PVTC in collaboration with industry stakeholders were ensuring the provision of opportunities for individuals in different demand driven trades. This would enable skilled youth to use their expertise to earn a living, he said.

Barclays Bank CEO Shahzad Dada said in Pakistan, young people were almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Barclays was investing in their future through the project, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2014.


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