The government has announced the opening of admissions for the free E-Rozgaar Training Programme 2022. This is a commendable initiative for youngsters who have completed 16 years of education to enrol in courses of E-Commerce, Technical and Content Marketing, Advertising, Creative Designing and Digital and Social Media Marketing. The students will also benefit from training in freelancing, profile making and liaising with clients.
This programme plays an important role in providing work opportunities to the youth in the IT sector and it has been a success as its trainees have earned over 350 million rupees in the past few years since it was launched. However, given the dire situation when it comes to youth unemployment in the country, these measures still fall seriously short.
According to a recently released report by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), over 31 percent of the country’s youth is currently unemployed. The revelations in the report are quite concerning as it shows how a large part of the working-age group is not even part of the labour force.
Also, despite policy initiatives to address this, the female labour force participation rate (LFPR) remains shockingly low. For a country that claims that the growth of this country is contingent on its youth, the youth appear to be struggling quite a bit due to reasons that are not of their own making. The report also states how the unemployment rate is the highest for young new entrants in the labour force, adding that it takes about a decade or more for the youth to find employment. This should not be the case if we are serious about reaping the demographic dividend.
Schemes like the E-Rozgaar programme are part of the government’s effort to support Pakistan’s digital transformation. However, the government’s policies such as taxing data plans, internet services, and laptops are only going to prolong this long overdue transition. Some electronic dealers have reported that taxes on laptops and computers have negatively impacted sales by about 80 percent.
These are counter-productive measures which will discourage young Pakistani computer users who substantially contribute to the country’s exports through their freelancing and software design activities. The impact of the government’s various policies should be in sync rather than contradictory. Instead of disparate piecemeal efforts, what we need is a more holistic approach to address youth employment in the country.