75 million youth are unemployed
Half of youth are not sure that their post-secondary education has improved their chances of finding a job.
Almost 40% of employers say a lack of skills is the main reason for entry-level vacancies.
About 57% (over 100 million) of Pakistan's population is below 25 years of age, making Pakistan one of the youngest populations in the world. Within this population, those aged between 15 to 35 accounts for almost 37% or 66 million people. Assuming 3 million are graduates, we are left with almost 63 million young adults who are potentially skill able. While this poses an enormous challenge, it presents a golden opportunity to rectify one of the fundamental impediments to Pakistan's growth and its population's welfare.
Pakistan exports labor to a number of countries other than the Middle East, i.e. North America, Europe (especially the UK), the Far East and Australia, and to parts of Africa. Evidence from host countries confirms the importance of Pakistani workers in total labor inflows. Further, remittances are emerging as an important source of external finance. In fact, they have grown faster than Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Official Development Aid (ODA) in the past decade, doubling in several countries and rising by 10-15% per annum over 2001-05. As migrant remittances have ballooned in size, they have caught the attention of many governments with high level of manpower exports. However, Pakistan lags behind Philippines and India as a major source country.
To continue its inflow of remittances and more importantly to compete for an enhanced share, Pakistan needs a flexible education system: basic education to provide the foundation for learning; as well as core technical skills. The education system must be attuned to the new global environment by promoting creativity and improving the quality of education and training at all levels. Therefore, it is crucial to invest in quality secondary and tertiary education and in vocational training if Pakistan wants to claim its due share of remittances in world markets as well as ensure the welfare of its growing population.
Considering the above, the case for an enhanced skills development programmed such as the one envisaged by APEX is unmistakably clear.