Propelling Economic Change By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The demographic features of the population of any country have a direct bearing on its economic development, more so when its bigger chunk consists of youth. The youth is universally acknowledged as the architect of the future of a country. Pakistan is one of the luckiest countries in that regard as 68 percent of its population is below the age of 30 yeaRs Harnessing that potential requires equipping the youth with technical skills which enhance the chances of their employability within and outside the country as well as the availability of finances to those who have acquired necessary skills and technical know-how and are desirous of starting their own businesses, assuming the role of an entrepreneur.

An incisive appraisal of 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 the US, Japan, Denmark, Germany and Taiwan are aware of the role 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 serves as a channel for spill-over of the knowledge acquired in one organisation and becoming commercialised 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, commercialised and converted into innovative pursuits which not only revolutionises those industries but also spurs economic growth, job creation and the development of a competitive culture within the country.

To promote entrepreneurship, it is important that people with innovative ideas and skills have access to vital entrepreneurial resources like money, talent and know-how to initiate new business, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises which are less volatile and more stable than the big industrial ventures due to their ability to provide bulk of the jobs in a country.

In view of the foregoing realities, it is encouraging to note a visionary and progressive initiative has been taken by the PTI government through the launch of the Kamyab Jawan programme with the aim to empower young people with skills, finances and self-reliance opportunities.

Under the programme launched in October 2019, Rs100 billion have been allocated for advancing loans to the youth out of which Rs25 billion would be given to the women entrepreneuRs Loans up to Rs100000 will be interest free whereas very low interest rates will be charged on loans in the range of Rs1mIllion to Rs10 million and Rs10 million to Rs25 million. The initiative aims at facilitating one million young people.

So far Rs8 billion have been loaned out to 10,000 applicants including 8500 males and 1491 females for setting up their own businesses through participating banks.

Perhaps it would be pertinent to have a look at the components of the skill-imparting strategy which includes training of 50,000 youth of less developed areas; training of 50,000 youth in high-tech courses; certification of 50,000 skilled workers of the informal sector and training of 4000 accessories; apprenticeship training of 20,000 youth in industry; standardisation of 200 curricula; international accreditation of 50 Pakistani YVET institutes; a national Employment exchange tool; establishment of 76 smart-tech labs; 10 country of destination specific facilitation centres in 10 cities; 70 new labs and workshops in madrassas; establishing the National Accreditation Council at ICT; accreditation of 2000 YVET Institutes ; international training of 500 master trainers and in-country training of 2000 teachers and the establishment of 50 business incubation centres.

The Kamyab Jawan Programme is not only about providing finances to the youth to start their businesses and imparting technical skills but also aims at promoting their overall well-being. The programme envisages the establishment of the Youth National Council—a forum providing productive interaction between successful youth within and outside the country, the creation of a digital portal for youth, the establishment of a job placement bureau and a youth development index designed to analyse and monitor the impact of the initiative. One can hardly take an issue with the overall conceptualisation of the programme. It undoubtedly has the promise and potential to change the economic profile of the country like developed countries which pursued this course as a deliberate policy.

Source: https://nation.com.pk/16-May-2021/propelling-economic-change

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