ISLAMABAD     -      Speakers at a conference on the State of Youth in Pakistan on Thursday stressed for integrated youth development policies implemented in letter and spirit, statement said on Thursday.

The conference was part of the 20th All Members Meeting of the Human Resource Development Network (HRDN)  aimed at devising an outline of the future strategy to empower neglected youth through education and skills development initiatives. It was organised in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organisation (ILO), Institute of Rural management (IRM), Aga Khan rural Support Programme (AKRSP) and Caritas Pakistan here on Thursday.

Speaking on the occasion, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar said the government is on a five-point youth development and economic engagement programme as a top priority. About 100 billion loans would be disbursed to the young people having adequate plans to run businesses. We need to focus more on creating jobs through the private businesses instead of government jobs.

Skills for All, National Internship Programme, and Green Movement initiatives would focus more on youth’s employability through enhancing their skills required for the jobs on ground, he said, adding the government is working with the Higher Education Commission to groom the youth in universities with the skill-sets needed in the job market.

The ILO country representative Ingrid Christensen said young women and men are disproportionately affected by unemployment and underemployment, poor quality jobs, labour market inequalities, difficult and long school-to-work transitions and skills mismatches. Young people that are not in employment, education and training are particularly at risk of long-term disconnect from the labour market.

Munir Ahmed, the Executive Director Devcom-Pakistan, while rending policy recommendations said the foremost policy should be the implementation of the existing policies in an integrated manner. The skills development programme should follow guidance and mentoring of youth in developing micro and small enterprises.

Mr. Ahmed suggested engaging university students in on-job sort of training in the last two semesters of their Masters’ degree programmes to enhance their employability. Pakistan is rich in variety of crafts that can accommodate major portion of the uneducated rural youth.