27m youth unemployed in country, face lack of job space

UNDP report indicates increased risk of crimes due to growing numbers of ‘idle’ unemployed youth

ISLAMABAD   -   Around 27 million youth are unemployed in the country and face lack of opportunities, while the Covid-19 pandemic has further increased the economic challenge, said the UNDP National Human Development (NHD) report.

The report said that there are as many as 27 million ‘idle’ or unemployed young people in Pakistan. One-quarter are young men, while most (three-quarters) are young women while the large populations of youth face the prospect of an uncertain future and a lack of opportunities.

It also said that a country’s economic progress depends on whether youth entering employment have more education and skills than the existing labour force, and whether they are fully and productively absorbed into employment with quality jobs. Otherwise, with growing numbers of ‘idle’ unemployed youth, there is an increased risk of crime and violence cloaked in the garb of ethnicity, sectarianism, or religion.

According to the Youth development index (YDI) by UNDP in its report NHDR 2020, Punjab performs better than the national average on the Youth Development Index because of the province’s better performance on education indicators. Sindh’s above average YDI value is due largely to a higher rate of the absorption of young people into employment.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a lower YDI value than the national average because of low rates of youth employment. Balochistan’s poor performance on the index is due to low levels of education among its youth.

National Human Development report 2020 suggests a cohesive policy is essential to address youth development as a cross-sectoral issue. Pakistan currently lacks a national youth policy to lead efforts for the youth. Policy interventions such as the internship programme, handing out free laptops, and several other schemes under the government’s youth initiatives will generate only short-term solutions unless there is an integrated approach for youth development. Youth and economy focused education policy is need of the hour.

Pakistan is experiencing the phenomenon of unemployed educated people, particularly jobless graduates. The unemployment rate among degree-holders is almost three times higher than the other overall unemployed people. The reason for this is a mismatch between the education being imparted and the need of the economy to sufficiently absorb fresh graduates.

UNDP in its Pakistan National Human Development Report 2020 also suggested that tackling the challenge of unemployment must rank high among the government’s priorities to prevent rising frustration and disengagement among Pakistan’s youth.

There are no investments that Pakistan can make today that are more important than investing in its youth. Three investments, more than all others, are going to be key to unleashing their potential and enterprise; Education, employment and engagement.

But each requires an important adjective to be truly effective. Education needs to focus on quality; employment needs to be gainful; and engagement has to be meaningful.

Government and authorities should be focused that youth must not be exploited for personal gains of businessmen, political parties or any religious sect rather being utilized positively for economic growth of the country.

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