New report makes the case for investing in adolescents and youth in Pakistan

New report released during online event with Minister of Federal Education and Professional Training, SAPM on Youth Affairs and UNICEF Representative as part of ‘Generation Unlimited’ partnership

17 December 2020
Generation Unlimited PR Cover
UNICEF/Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, 17 December 2020: Today Minister of Federal Education and Professional Training (MoFEPT) Shafqat Mahmood, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Youth Affairs, Usman Dar and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Pakistan Aida Girma attended the online release of ‘Investing in Pakistan’s Young People’, a study showcasing how public and private sector investment in adolescents’ and youth’s education, skills training and employment has the potential to reap immense benefits for Pakistan.

The study clearly demonstrates that public and private sector investment in young Pakistanis’ education, skills training, employment, entrepreneurship and engagement would result in high returns on investment. It makes the case for further investment and action, calling upon a range of stakeholders, including the public and the private sectors and development partners, to further ramp up investments in Pakistan’s adolescents and youth.

For instance, increasing development expenditure on education by 10 per cent every year would add 1 percentage point to GDP growth. Investments in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) could lead to a 7 per cent gain in worker productivity and better employment prospects. Employment-related training would yield a 200 per cent overall return on investments and expanding decent work would help Pakistan slash inequality and result in significant economic growth.

“The future of work is changing, and new sectors demand higher-value skills. If Pakistan is to prepare all its young people for the future world of work, it needs major public and private investments in education and skills development and scaled-up solutions. Partnerships like Generation Unlimited will help the country build and enrich the ecosystem around skills, education and employment and support young girls and boys to innovate. It will help leverage Government, public and private sector funds into our common goal: helping young people so they can help build the future'’, said Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Minister of Federal Education and Professional Training. “I urge both the public and private sector to cooperate and share all your knowledge and resources to help our young people realize their potential. I applaud the findings of the study and hope that these will be translated into a road map for Pakistan.”

The Government, recognizing the importance, talents and aspirations of Pakistan’s youth, is already making key investments in its youth cohort between the ages of 15 and 29, through Kamyab Jawan and other programmes promoting skills development, entrepreneurship, and access to micro-credit. Generation Unlimited complements these efforts by promoting investment in the critical cohort aged 10-19 so that adolescent girls and boys can acquire the education and skills training required to access employment opportunities.

Consistent, tailored investments for adolescents’ and youth’s development are more critical than ever as Pakistan and the world face the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, skills training and employment.

"The study that is being launched today highlights that 1.2 million adolescents enter the youth bracket every year. The Government is engaging multisectoral stakeholders under Kamyab Jawan, producing an Adolescent Index and partnering on Adolescent development with UNICEF. Alongside the youth agenda, it is important that we invest in adolescents, so they have the skills they need to transition to youth and employment,” said Mr. Usman Dar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Youth Affairs. “This cannot be possible without partnerships. Generation Unlimited will open more doors for collaboration and pooling of resources -- both technical and financial, and with the involvement of the public and the private sectors. Government investment in small and medium enterprises is critical to expand employment opportunities for young people. The Government has the full ownership of this initiative which reflects the model we have adopted for youth development in Pakistan. With the support of GenU, we will initiate programs for Adolescent development connecting skills development with education and engage adolescents to shape their future and that of Pakistan – a kind of ‘Kamyab Jawan Junior’.”

With more than 65 million young people between 10 and 24 years old, Pakistan has one of the largest young populations in South Asia. It is one of 16 front-runner countries establishing a GenU country-level partnership platform that brings together government, private sector, civil society organizations and development partners, and forges innovative collaboration with young people with a view to scale up and link formal education and skill development.

“Adolescents and youth represent the economic future of Pakistan, which has the largest generation of young people in its history,” said Ms. Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. “This new study clearly demonstrates how critical it is to continue investing in adolescent girls and boys so they can achieve their full potential. This will in turn help Pakistan to take advantage of the youth dividend to support economic and social growth, close the gender gap and reduce exclusion and inequalities. This is a first step for the public-private Generation Unlimited platform in the country. It aims to provide youth, in particular out-of-school adolescents, with the quality education and skills training which they need, while helping them to access employment.”

Last week, UNICEF and the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) signed a partnership agreement to research, design and pre-test an accelerated and cost-effective ‘Non-Formal Education to Job Placement’ model as part of ‘Generation Unlimited’. It aims to improve the skills and employability of adolescent girls and boys who have never attended formal education, or who dropped out of the formal education system, in link with job placement.

Mr Javed Hassan, Chairman of the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (Navttc) which hosts the GenU Secretariat in Pakistan; Mr Muhammad Usman Khan, Economics Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences who conducted research and analysis for the study; Ms Fatima Arshad Unilever, Head of Sustainability and Communications, Unilever Pakistan; and Ms Madiha Parvez, Head Corporate Innovation & Digital Education Telenor Pakistan; and two young people who participated in the GenU Youth Challenge, Sehrish and Sunain, participated in the event. 

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Note to Editors:

You can download the new Generation Unlimited (GenU) study, ‘Investing in Pakistan’s young people’ here: https://www.unicef.org/pakistan/reports/investing-pakistans-young-people. It showcases the potential benefits and returns on investment if we invest in young Pakistanis now. These returns are immense in each of GenU’s five thematic areas: education, skills training, employment, entrepreneurship and engagement. For example:

  • The right investments in education could lead to a return on investment of 19 per cent for girls and 2 per cent for boys.
  • Increasing development expenditure on education by 10 per cent per year would add 1 percentage point to GDP growth.
  • Investments in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) could lead to a 7 per cent gain in worker productivity and better employment prospects.
  • Employment-related training would yield a 200 per cent overall return on investments and expanding decent work would help Pakistan slash inequality – a major triumph, since reducing inequality by just 1 Gini point would produce economic growth of 5 per cent over the next five years.
  • Investing in entrepreneurs has the potential to create high-growth firms and prompt knowledge spillover to the wider economy. Immense gains are expected if Pakistan ensures young people’s engagement, participation and inclusion.

Founded in September 2018,  Generation Unlimited (GenU) is a new global partnership which aims to transform education, employment and entrepreneurial outcomes for young people around the world by bringing together stakeholders from the private sector, government, UN agencies, civil society and young people to scale up solutions and attract investment.

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