ISLAMABAD The World Bank (WB) approved a $21 million credit for the Sindh Skills Development Project (SSDP) to assist the government to strengthen its training programmes for better employment outcomes of youth in the province of Sindh, says press release. The aim of the project is to provide vocational training to some 50,000 youth in order to improve their skills and employability said a WB statement adding that the project will focus on trainees between 18 and 35 years old, with special emphasis on youth from poorer and less developed districts of the province. Access to education remains a huge challenge in Pakistan, it said adding only a quarter of youth graduate from secondary education and a meagre 4pc enters the higher education system. In addition, the quality of education is weak at all levels of education, drop-out rates are high, and learning achievements are low and varied, it said adding this translates to more than three-quarters of youth exiting the education system with some foundational skills, but with few marketable skills and facing difficulties finding employment. With 29pc of Pakistans 169 million people in the 15-24 age range, this amounts to a tremendous education and training challenge, said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, adding Through this assistance, the Bank is targeting a critical need which has enormous social and economic impact for Pakistan to maximize its development and growth. The lack of a skilled labour force presents a significant constraint to the countrys growth and competitiveness, which underscores the need to make the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector responsive to the demand of the youth for jobs and a contributor to improved competitiveness of Pakistani firms. As in the rest of the country, the TVET sector in Sindh is also faced with a number of challenges, notably poor relevance of training and few training opportunities. However, the provincial government is taking critical steps to address these challenges, it said adding two positive developments have included the establishment in 2009 of the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA), an autonomous agency which has brought all technical and vocational education institutions under one common umbrella. In addition, the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme (BBSYDP) was initiated to skill unemployed youth for employment. In just three years of operation, the BBSYDP has been successful in providing training to over 79,000 unemployed youth in Sindh.