With 40% of its population under the age of eighteen and low gross domestic product growth rate, the development of Pakistan’s human resources is crucial; the country’s youth must be equipped to enter employment in order to avoid negative economic and social implications. The skills sector in Pakistan has the capacity to engage this sector of society and, moreover, create an economic opportunity from the country’s population demographics.
Skills development in Pakistan is the responsibility of polytechnic, vocational and training institutions, apprenticeship schemes, a number of government ministries and departments, commercial training institutions and the informal Ustad Shagird system. However, despite this array of organisations, the overall proportion of skilled labour remains inadequate and there is a significant gap between the training provided by these institutions and the skills demanded by employers.
To tackle this challenge, the Scottish government, in collaboration with the British Council, launched the ‘Pakistan Scottish Apprenticeship Scheme’ in March 2016. This programme has directly involved industries in the training of apprentices in a bid to ensure the necessary skills, knowledge and flexibility are provided to Pakistani youth during their training. The overall goal is to enhance the employability of the young people who participate in the scheme.
As a result of the programme, 122 apprentices are in the process of being hired by 10 medium-sized companies operating in a diverse set of industries; sectors such as renewable energy, sports goods, textiles, and electronics have been represented in the scheme. The apprentices are being provided with both on-the-job and classroom-based training through which their technical and soft skills are being developed while they also earn a living. Areas in which apprentices are gaining technical skills include moulding, designing, tailoring, painting, welding, upholstery, inventory management, and more.
By the end of this first cycle of the apprenticeship scheme, our aim is to ensure that all the apprentices trained under the programme are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to be accepted by industry, increasing their chances of employability.