Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Saturday the government aimed to train two million youngsters in various skills over the next three years.
“The youth make up 60 per cent of the population of the country. They hold the key to a bright future,” the chief minister said at the inauguration of two-day Skills Expo and Job Fair-2015. The Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) has organised the event at the Lahore International Expo Centre.
Sharif announced interest-free loans of Rs75,000 each for 4,000 youth trained by the TEVTA in collaboration with Akhuwat Foundation. He said the scheme would help the youth earn a livelihood. He said Rs11 billion interest-free loans had been distributed among 1.1 million families through Akhuwat Foundation. The recovery rate is more than 99 per cent, he said. He said providing technical training to the new generation was an investment.
“Development goals cannot be achieved unless we empower our youth,” he said. He praised the TEVTA for promoting technical education and providing a skilled manpower fulfilling the market needs.
The chief minister called the expo a step towards producing a skilled workforce. He said the TEVTA, the Punjab Vocational Training Council and the Technology Upgradation and Skill Development Company had been working according to the government’s vision.
“Equipping the youth with technical education is the need of the hour. The country will progress if we train youngsters in the skills related to agriculture and the industry,” he said. He said the government favoured a close relationship between the industry and the vocational training institutions. He urged industrialists, vocational training institutions and teachers to recommend courses aimed at producing the manpower according to market needs.
Sharif said a seminar should be arranged so that an effective plan could be chalked out for the purpose. He said arranging road shows could be a step in the right direction.
The chief minister said terrorism and extremism had caused an irreparable loss to the country. He said great sacrifices had been rendered in the country’s war against terrorism. He praised security institutions, including Pakistan Army and the police, for fighting terrorism. “Pakistan is fighting the war of its survival. Victory is the only option.”
Sharif said the enemy wanted to destabilise Pakistan. “We will never let this happen… the nation will foil such conspiracies through unity,” he said.
The chief minister criticised those opposing the Metro Bus Service. The facility, he said, had been serving the common man. “If bulletproof vehicles of millions of rupees can be imported for the elite, why can’t public money be spent on such welfare projects?”
Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said that making the Punjab prosperous was the government’s mission. She said an effective strategy had been evolved for increasing the growth rate. “Private investment will be promoted for the purpose,” she said.
Provincial Ministers Chaudhry Muhammad Shafiq and Raja Ashfaq Sarwar and TEVTA chairman Irfan Qaiser Sheikh were also present on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2015.