The youth of Merged Areas (MA) find itself at a huge disadvantage when it comes to competing for white-collar and blue-collar jobs anywhere in the country. To develop the youth’s employable skills, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has initiated a Rs1.4bn project called the Accelerated Skills Development Programme for Merged Areas – one of its largest schemes aimed at increasing the employment rate of the youth in MA.

The programme has been designed by the Merged Ares Governance Project (MAGP) of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and is being funded by the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID). Under the initiative, 5,500 men, women, and transgender persons (18-35 years) from the MA will receive free trade and occupation skills trainings, after which they will be connected to enterprises for on-job training across the country.

Speaking about the initiative, KP Secretary for Industries, Commerce and Technical Education Zulfiqar Ali Shah said, “We are mindful that the youth of the MA have not had many opportunities to acquire occupational skills. The Accelerated Skills Development Program is an effort to bridge that gap.” Adding to that, Special Assistant to Chief Minister (SACM) on Industries Abdul Karim Khan said,

“The KP government aims to introduce interventions that deliver market-driven solutions and boost youth’s employability as well as private sector development in the region.”

While addressing the participants, USAID Deputy Mission Director Michael Nehrbass said, “USAID has a long history of partnering with the KP government. Our goal is to assist them with designing and implementing development strategies that improve the quality of life of KP residents, particularly the Merged Areas.”

In addition, the UNDP MAGP Manager Raluca Eddon emphasized that the scheme will strengthen the female labour force in the MA, which remains one of the lowest in the country. “The scheme is of crucial value as it will facilitate women and other marginalized groups in accessing opportunities to acquire skills,” she added.

The Accelerated Skills Development Programme will provide free trade and occupation skills in seven sectors such as health, agriculture, tourism, information technology, construction, mines and minerals, and services. Courses have been designed to provide both theoretical and practical knowledge to the trainees, with 80 percent of the syllabi focused on hands-on learning. The programme will be implemented in both public and private training institutes that have modern equipment as well as a compatible training infrastructure for the relevant occupation.

To apply to the programme, visit: http://www.Egjc.kp.gov.pk/ASDP.