ISLAMABAD: The spread of Covid-19 has severely affected employment conditions in the country and the closure of economic activities due to imposition of lockdowns has rendered an estimated 20.71 million workers jobless.

According to the Economic Survey 2020-21, prior to Covid-19, the working population was 55.7 million. During the pandemic, this number declined to 35.04 million which indicates that 20.71 million people either lost their jobs or were not able to work.

Apart from this grave impact on the job market within the country, overseas employment has also decreased by more than half. During 2020, 224,705 people were registered for overseas employment as compared to 625,203 registered during 2019 showing a decrease of 400,498 jobs, says the Economic Survey quoting statics of Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Pakistanis.

It is evident that Saudi Arabia, which is the main destination for Pakistani emigrants where more than 60pc Pakistani workers find jobs followed by United Arab Emirates with 24pc and Oman 4.6pc, after Covid-19, a sharp declining trend was observed during 2020. Not only those who planned to proceed for employment to these countries were affected, the pandemic also compelled many workers employed abroad to come back further raising the unemployment burden.

Overseas workers are considered a valuable asset of the country because they play a key role in the socio-economic development of the country through their remittances. The decline in overseas employment, apart from adding to joblessness, has also had a negative impact on the overall economic situation.

Apart from this, according to the survey, a large population and lack of proper management of human resources has also had a negative impact on the employment condition in the country. Pakistan being the fifth most populous country with the ninth largest labour force in the world, adds a large number to its workforce every year. Accordingly, protection and creation of jobs is the second biggest challenge for the incumbent government after health crises caused by the pandemic.

However, the government claims to have accorded highest priority to youth employment. For this purpose, National Youth Development Framework (NYDF) was developed on the basic principles of 3 Es which include Education, Employment and Engagement. The government claims to have designed a comprehensive strategy in the form of Prime Minister Kamyab Jawan Programme.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2021

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