ISLAMABAD - The Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood said on Tuesday that the biggest challenge for the government is to equip the youth with skill development to meet the job requirement of the market.

He was addressing launching ceremony of ‘Modern apprenticeships in Pakistan’ organised by National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) in collaboration with British Council Pakistan.

“Each year, around 2.5 million people enter local job market while majority of them lack basic necessary skills to meet the demands of the local industry,” said the minister.

He added that government’s biggest challenge is to ensure that every person entering the job market is equipped with modern skills with a certain amount of hands-on work experience to cater to the needs of employers’ requirements and for that we need to link up our education system with the needs of the job market.

He appreciated the efforts of NAVTTC for launching the new apprenticeship model while realising the need of making apprenticeship system more responsive to the changing market needs and bringing industry on board. He expressed the hope that the new apprenticeship model will be successfully adopted and implemented in all provinces and will provide an excellent opportunity to make the young population a vehicle of socio-economic growth and convert Pakistan into an industrial prosperous country. 

Chairman NAVTTC Syed Javed Hassan said that involvement of industry in the skill development is not only necessary for social welfare but is fundamental to the economic development of Pakistan.

Enhanced industrial productivity depends on how effectively we train our people and for this, our industry has to take a leading role for skilling Pakistani youth and in transforming our country into a 21st century nation, he added.

The executive director NAVTTC Dr Nasir Khan while addressing the ceremony said that Pakistan was facing a huge gap between supply and demand of skilled workforce. “Our annual demand for skilled workforce in the local market is more than 1 million while the system has the capacity to produce only 445,000 skilled labourers and if we include the requirements of CPEC-related projects and international job market, then the total annual demand reaches up to 2 million”, he said.

Unfortunately Apprenticeship Ordinance, 1962 was both narrow in scope and lacked ownership by the industry. The total number of apprentices trained by the industry annually is only 40,000 while there are around 70,000 registered industries in Pakistan, he added.

Apprenticeship is at the core of the entire TVET system and we need to immediately scale up the figures to ensure economic development of our country, he said. Almost 73% of our total labour force comes from informal sector so we need to bring them into the mainstream economy through recognition of prior learning.

James Hampson, deputy country director British Council Pakistan said that launching of the new model of apprenticeship demonstrated the British Council’s continued commitment to the friendship between the two nations and to helping tackle issues that really matter to both countries.