An incisive appraisal of the developed countries reveals that their phenomenal economic growth was propelled by entrepreneurship, which is rightly regarded as a key to economic prosperity. Entrepreneurship is the capacity and willingness to start a new business venture and the hallmark of entrepreneurial spirit is innovation and risk taking. Countries like USA, Japan, Denmark, Germany, Taiwan are quintessential of the role that entrepreneurship can play in the economic development of a country and therefore are role models for other nations aspiring to achieve self-sustained growth in the ever increasing competitive global market. Entrepreneurship therefore has rightly been called an engine of growth.

To promote entrepreneurship it is important that the people with innovative ideas and skills have access to the vital entrepreneurial resources like money, talent and know-how to initiate new business, especially small and medium size enterprises which are less volatile and more stable than the big and mega industrial ventures due to their ability to provide bulk of the jobs in a country. One of the major objectives of the governments and its economic managers is to ensure full employment in the country or trying to ensure the creations of maximum job opportunities for the ever growing labour force. But the fact remains that the governments can only provide an enabling environment to spur economic activity that leads to creation of more jobs in the private sector.

In view of the importance of entrepreneurship in job creation and development of the country, the Kamyab Jawan programme of the PTI government is a step in the right direction. Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated first phase of Rs.100 billion Programme in October 2019 to support country’s youth through financial and technical assistance in pursuance of his pledge to create 10 million jobs. The progamme funded by UNDP envisages advancing of interest free loans up to one hundred thousand rupees among the weaker segments of the society in 45 less developed districts of the country. The other two categories included loans up to Rs.500000 and Rs.5 million. The youth will not only be provided money to start their own businesses but they would also be assisted through online feasibility studies carried out by the government to make their choices regarding the type of business they would like to undertake. The other hall mark of the programme is that women will have 25% quota in it

On January 9 the Prime Minister inaugurated a crucial segment of the Kamyab Jawan programme known as Hunarmad Jawan (Skilled Youth) which is designed to prepare youth for employment at home and abroad by imparting training and education in high-tech and emerging technologies. The components of the programme include: 1.Development & Standardization of 200 Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET) Qualifications; International Accreditation of 50 Pakistani TVET Institutes and Joint Degree Programmes; Extension of NAVTTC’s Job Portal into National Employment Exchange; Establishing 75 Smart Labs across Pakistan for Distance Learning programmes in TVET sector for technical, vocational & soft skills, to create a culture of virtual skill development; Establishing 10 country-of-destination specific facilitation centers in 10 cities across Pakistan with high out-flux of workforce in the international job markets; Initiating technical, vocational education and training (TVET) in Madrassa(s) by Establishing 70 labs/workshops in Madrassa(s) across Pakistan; Skill Development Programme for 50,000 youth belonging to less developed areas of country especially Southern Punjab, Rural Sindh, newly merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Ex-FATA), Baluchistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan; Skill development training of 50,000 youth in High-Tech and emerging technologies in state-of-the-art Institutes & Universities across Pakistan; Apprenticeship training of 20,000 youth in industry under Apprenticeship Act-2018; Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) of 50,000 youth to certify informally acquired skills inside the country and abroad and training of 4,000 Assessors; Establishing National Accreditation Council for TVET and skill development sector in Pakistan at Islamabad; Accreditation of 2,000 TVET Institutes across Pakistan; Transfer of technology through collaboration with technologically advanced countries for bringing TVET system in Pakistan at par with international standards;50 Business Incubation Centers (BICS) in public sector TVET Institution to promote entrepreneurship ecology for employment generation.

In Pakistan the government employs only 7-8% of the labour force. So like all other nations the only option available to it is to propel economic activity in the private sector through encouraging entrepreneurship in regards to the establishment of small and medium size business and industry by making available necessary resources and technical know-how to the youth entering the labour market.

Entrepreneurship serves as a channel for spillover of the knowledge acquired in one organization and becoming commercialized through innovative activity in a new startup. The new startups ensure that the costly inventions and creative ideas created in one industry or business concern are shared, commercialized and converted into innovative pursuits which not only revolutionize those industries but also spur economic growth, job creation and development of a competitive culture within the country.

The youth are the future of the country. Engaging them in productive pursuits and self-employment avenues is the best insurance against poverty and an indispensable guarantee for economic prosperity. The country can move forward only when there are greater employment opportunities in the private sector. Pakistani youth are around 40% of the total population and any move that ensures and guarantees their gainful employment is bound to accelerate the process of economic progress due to its multiplier effect besides enhancing tax revenues of the government that this newly initiated economic activity will generate. The measures initiated by the government are meant just for that. Availability of financial resources and technical know would enable youth to start their own businesses. Others would be able to find gainful employment in the country and abroad. Skillful youth means prosperous Pakistan. The successful implementation of the programmes will surely put Pakistan on the path of sustained economic development.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The writer is a freelance columnist.