Research conducted by Gallup Pakistan and Policy Research, Innovation, Development and Education (PRIDE) revealed that the highest youth unemployment rate in Sindh is in Karachi at 11.2% and the lowest is 3.4% in Larkana. High rates of youth unemployment are plaguing the entire country, but the figures for Karachi are particularly alarming considering its status as the economic hub of the country.
One major reason for the high youth unemployment rates is low levels of higher education attainment. The distribution of unemployed youth by the level of education indicates that young men and women with an educational level of matric but below intermediate make up the biggest proportion of unemployed youth. The rate is the lowest for youth with MPhil and PhD degrees. Many students and their families fail to acknowledge the importance of higher education in building careers and in turn resort to temporary jobs, which may appear lucrative or marriage. HEC can lend the government a helping hand by introducing incentives to draw students towards higher education, particularly female students. Many countries around the world have widened the scope of education and training for the youth, which has allowed the youth to learn and adapt to new skills instead of going through the traditional route of education. Therefore, Pakistan must also adopt similar training and mentorship programmes with the help of its industrial and business community.
In Karachi, urban dynamics may also be at play. For instance, there is an oversupply of labour, limited public transport infrastructure, physical and mental health concerns, poor law enforcement, etc. This coupled with relatively comfortable home environments, especially among the middle-income groups, often prevents the youth from seeking jobs. The rising unemployment challenge needs to be addressed through a multi-pronged approach — one that intensifies investments in both education as well as skills development training programmes to expand opportunities for the youth otherwise a bleak future awaits the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2023.
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