INSIGHT: PM Khan’s $200m ‘Hunermand Jawan’ (Skilled Youth) Could Be a Home Run

Experts say a national effort for creating opportunities for self-employment and jobs (local & overseas) for the youth should be made concurrently.

DESPARDES — Prime Minister Imran Khan launched on Thursday Pakistan’s skill development program called ‘Hunermand Jawan’ (Skilled Youth) aimed at providing quality professional training to the young over four year period and costing Rs30 billion ($200m) to the national kitty.

The fund will cover easy loans, professional capacity-building, start-ups and internships to the youth (those under 30).

While announcing the ambitious plan at a ceremony, Khan alluded to the youth bulge and said his government was working to provide them with modern skills, adding that Pakistan was deprived of God’s blessings as a handful of elite progressed while the majority were ignored.

He described this as an unjust system with double standards.

Nearly 64 percent of Pakistan’s population comprise the young — it is forecasted to continue to increase until at least 2050.

The statistic makes Pakistan the fifth largest “young country” in the world — and the second youngest in the South Asian region after Afghanistan.

But analysts have been saying that this demographic dividend Pakistan has could be squandered if priorities are not set immediately in a happy mix of public policy and cost/benefit trade-off, and over a time-scale.

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Politics aside, the matter of Pakistani youth’s emancipation is a flaming red flag across the divide, experts say.

Them having disposable income in the absence of literacy and education has been a challenge.

Experts say the ‘Hunermand Jawan’ (Skilled Youth) program would be a good and a timely start.

In the big picture, according to them, the country’s youth bulge and a snapshot of the woefully low higher education — combined — puts into dire state the economic profile of our youth.

In the first phase of the program, Khan said approximately 170,000 youth will be given professional skill-based training, of which 50,000 will be trained in areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing and other advanced areas of technology.

About 50,000 youth will be trained at Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority in orthodox areas which include auto-mechanics and plumbing whereas 20,000 youth will be given apprenticeship.

Also, five ‘Centers of Excellence’ will be established in collaboration with allied countries. Smart classrooms will be made to ensure easy access to skill and professional education besides provision of such training at 70 madrassas countrywide.

Experts say a national effort for creating opportunities for self-employment and jobs (local & overseas) for the youth should be made concurrently.