Pakistan with the population of 190 million is the six most populous country and home to 100 million people under age of 30 years of age. The youth of country can be tremendous opportunity if nurtured well and engaged in constructive activities but can be huge threat if they are left without direction and exploited in destructive activities. Geographic position of Pakistan is important from various aspects, but this geographically strategic position, which ideally should benefit the country but it hasn’t been translated into well-being of youth, especially economic upliftment and employment is concern. Pakistan, is gate way to South Asia having seaport in its one of the largest city Karachi, and once it has been hub to textile, cotton ginning, leather goods and other industries and used to feed millions of lives, current facing enormous challenges of different nature and magnitude.
Facts and Figures
Unemployment rate fluctuates year by year, depending on the total size of population, labor force, government policies and economic and political conditions of the nation. Let’s have a brief look of the figures. According to the World Bank data from 1991 to 2014, unemployment rate in Pakistan averaged 5.8 percent. Highest rate was 7.8 experienced in 2002, and lowest rate 4.3 was enjoyed in 1993.
Labor Force Survey 2012-13 by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics shows for the fiscal year 2012-13 that total labor force has increased from 50.0 million in 2005-06 to 59.7 million in 2012-13. It shows that more than 9 million people joined the labor force during this period. On the other side, the number of employed labor force increased from 46.95 million to 56.0 million during this period. This means that all the increase in labor force could not be adjusted in employment sector and therefore unemployed people increased from 3.10 million to 3.73 million during the same period. That makes unemployment rate of 6.24 percent. It’s slightly high than the average data of World Bank mentioned above. And if we see by age, the historical data tells us unemployment rate has been lowest among the persons between the age of 35 and 40 years. More recent figure of unemployment rate in Pakistan (2014-15) is 5.9 percent.
Underlying Causes of Unemployment
There are several reasons for unemployment. In Pakistani perspective, we see that population growth rate is higher than the average of all Asian countries. Despite rapid population growth trend and need of more economic opportunity, Government’s economic policies don’t demonstrate such commitments. Lack of energy source and limited investment opportunities due to insecurity bring fewer jobs in industrial sector, while climate change and improper management of agro-input has shrunken the agriculture sector. Lack of access and quality of education starting from primary to secondary and even further tertiary is another factor, which the system doesn’t produce quality human resource, in the result people are not are less able to meet their needs. This system leaves students behind the required knowledge and skills for getting the jobs in public and private sectors. Hence a big chunk is left behind on the way. Political and social instability are also significant reasons that leave a country with higher unemployed labor force.
Impacts of Unemployment on Society and Economy
Unemployment creates a number of social evils. People who are unable to find work are left with two choices generally in the developing countries like Pakistan. (1) They start begging to earn their living (2) They start indulging in crimes. Theft, robbery, corruption, snatching, street crimes and tribal fights in rural areas and many more evils are mostly the result unemployment. Unemployment is root cause of many social issues that Pakistan is currently facing. From a dacoit to a terrorist, many are the produce of unemployment. Social instability increases, and people lose their hope in the leadership of the country. Urbanization begins. That leads to social disorder in urban towns.
In past one and a half decade, different governments have initiated various programs of skill development for the youth of the country. That should increase employability. Pervez Musharraf government started National Internship Program for youth. This was one year internship program in any public sector organization/institute with Rs.10000 equivalent to approximately US$100 per month stipend. They were supposed to get work experience that should help them in getting jobs in future. Later, People’s Party government also stared somewhat similar type of program with the name of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Program (commonly known as BBSYDP). This is a study program of four months with a small stipend per month given to every individual. Different subjects are taught so that students can enhance their knowledge base and can find work based on that. More similar program has also been introduced by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government naming it Prime Minister’s Youth Skills Development Program. All these programs are currently running and have benefited hundreds of thousands of people. But main problem with these programs is that they benefit only for short term. Strategic planners should evaluate the output of these programs before rushing into the same type of strategy again and again. Government also focuses on self-employment of the growing youth. A loan scheme has been started recently by the present government, through National Bank of Pakistan. It provides loan up to Rs.2 million for self-employment or small business initiative. A considerable number of applications were submitted and provided loans. That’s one positive move in the youth to capitalize the opportunity.
Number of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) has increased significantly in Pakistan during last few years. International NGOs have emerged as a big source of employment for the local people, along with national NGOs. NGOs have engaged themselves in social development and poverty alleviation programs, especially in northern areas of Pakistan and rural areas of all provinces. Increased number of NGOs has created a lot of jobs in towns where private sector job opportunities are lesser than bigger cities. Many of the NGOs are also working on education, training and skills development programs so that more and more people are able to find work in the mainstream economy of country and contribute their labor.
This is important for country like Pakistan and its more than 100 Million youth that they find decent means of employment to contribute positively to the society, so their energy is invested in productive and constructive acts.