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Poverty alleviation not possible without job creation

January 19, 2013

PESHAWAR, Jan 18: Institutional shortcomings, fiscal constraints and defective training contents are responsible for an ineffective technical and vocational education and training system in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, making the province to continue with a growing unskilled workforce.

The Skills Development Plan (SDP), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, describes ‘social versus economic demands, training contents, linkage of institutional training programmes with employment market, under utilisation of existing facilities, inflexibility/lack of autonomy, informal sector training, apprenticeship training, effect of globalisation and public sector allocations’ as constraints and issues facing the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system in the province.

Setting a roadmap for the province to reduce its unemployment rate and overcome the skilled labour shortages faced by the public and private sector organisations by improving vocation and technical training in the province, the plan was put in place, in October 2012, with the assistance of GIZ, a German development organisation, and other development partners of the provincial government.

It was prepared for the provincial ministry for technical education, where, according to a relevant source, it remains unattended, accumulating dust because of official negligence.

SDP asks for involving employers in designing training package, terming it vital to achieve the objective of quality control, relevance, standardisation and making training programme cost effective. Similarly, it emphasises the need for practicing public-private partnership as a pragmatic solution to make training programmes more meaningful and effective.

In this respect, it points out that since most of the population in the country lives in remote areas, therefore, it would be cost effective to establish technical/vocational training centres at these places.

However, it suggests that due to small catchment areas, the needs of these localities would not be enough to warrant establishment of institutions.

“The best way is, therefore, to introduce the concept of community based training,” contains the SDP, recommending that CBT should be sufficiently flexible and technically adequate to train the population of the local areas in the appropriate skills.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has developed SDP to plan the actions needed to improve the skills and employability of its people to create jobs and attain sustainable economic development.

“The plan targets the specific skills development requirements which will allow the province to develop its economy and society,” says the document, which is based on National Skills Strategy (NSS) developed through a national consultative process in 2009.

According to the plan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recognises that achievement of a higher growth rate, which in its case stands at 2.93 per cent per annum, would be an impossible task to achieve in the presence of a stagnant economy with low per capita income.It says the province has an estimated 22.2 million population of which only 16.9 per cent lives in urban areas with a large concentration in three cities -- Peshawar, Mingora, and Mardan.

The increase in its population is duly reflected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s civilian labour force that, according to the SDP document, increased from 6.23 million in 2007-08 to 6.53 million in 2008-09 as per Labour Force Survey of 2008-09.

Unemployment rate for the province at 8.5 per cent is significantly higher than the national average of 5.5 per cent, according to the plan.

Most of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s workforce, according to the plan, is employed in agriculture followed by community, social and personal services, wholesale and retail trade, whereas manufacturing and construction are the next large sectors.

“A higher proportion of the labour force is rural, and self-employed, largely low-skilled and illiterate or less educated, a disincentive for the prospective business investors affecting the job creation negatively,” points out the SDP, terming it as a cause for high poverty.

“Job creation is closely linked with GDP expansion. According to an estimate, to absorb the additional labour and reduce current unemployment rate, GDP needs to grow at a rate above six per cent per annum,” the plan says.

However, improvement in the provincial growth rate seems to be a difficult proportion as, according to the SDP, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s existing institutional and technological base is insufficient to attain the target growth rate.

It says that the proposed activities would have an impact if implemented. However, this would largely depend on the provincial government’s ability to finance the plan, requiring around Rs90 million for year 2012 and 2013.

Besides, it also asks for making the provincial Technical Education and Vocational Training Agency fully functional to be able to implement the assigned activities.