Pakistan Muslim Nawaz has promised in its 2013 manifesto that when in power its government will start an especially designed employment program that will generate jobs at community and neighbourhood level through special development initiatives.
The country’s job landscape has changed radically over the past two decades. Currently the accounting/finance, sales/marketing and ICT sectors are top job creators. However, hardly five per cent of total applicants actually succeed in landing a decent job.
According to human resource practitioners, the unemployment rate is very high and Pakistan currently lacks the capacity to absorb about two million youth entering the already swarming job market every year.
While they do not have figures to back their claim, they estimate that the unemployment rate is at 15 per cent, three times higher than the current official rate of 5.2 per cent.
An informal survey revealed major distortions in the country’s labour market owing to misallocation, mistreatment and under-utilisation of precious human resource.
These experts stress that this issue has been ignored for too long and deserves the government’s immediate attention.
The country currently lacks the capacity to absorb about two million youth entering the already swarming job market every year
Job creation in Pakistan is crucial for three key reasons: sustainability of peace and growth, expanding the constituency for democracy and gaining public support essential for success of the CPEC.
Poverty and social issues could not be dealt with satisfactorily without mainstreaming the idle work-force that was seeking employment. Concessions and direct petty cash transfers can at best provide a temporary relief.
People wish for and deserved employment opportunities and jobs to lead a decent, dignified life. It would be wrong to assume that growth will necessarily improve the job situation. Rulers must remember voters’ verdict in India in 2004 when they turned the tables on BJP despite a steady GDP growth rate.
The situation, if allowed to persist, would compromise efforts directed to promote efficiency and fairness in the economic system. It would retard the pace of wealth generation and perpetuate income disparities in a society already divided beyond all perceivable ways.
Musadaq Malik, spokesman, PML-N said that his government has started many ventures to create employment opportunities in Pakistan. We are running many vocational courses in collaboration with TEVTA which makes candidate skilled in areas where demand for overseas employment increases. He said that CPEC is another areas, which will bring new job opportunities. However, he failed to give any response as to what does the government meant by designing employment programme to create jobs at community level.
Opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, Mian Mahmudur Rashid, of PTI said we are blessed in having about 63 per cent of youth population. Half of them are unemployed. According to Asian Development Bank (ADB) 50.7 per cent of the population aged 15 years and above is employed. Of it, the female ratio is very less. The rest are struggling for survival. On an average, Pakistan needs to create 20 million jobs annually for young people alone. But, Rashid said, the government is doing almost nothing to generate employment. Education is a key component for economic progress. Unfortunately, our current literacy is 60 per cent, least in South Asian countries. About 25 million children in are out of school. More importantly, on grass root level, thousands of schools are lacking very basic facilities such of sanitation, water, electricity, boundary walls etc.
“As far as I know PML-N government has not done anything substantial in this respect,” said Rashid.
Dr Aliya Khan, an economist with a keen eye on labour affairs, said, “Pakistan is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals that recognises the right to gainful employment to all and calls on governments to make labour market fair and free. Do we ever mean what we pledge?”
She further added that Pakistan is an employers’ market because of a widening supply and demand gap. What bargaining position can anyone have when there are teeming millions waiting outside the gate ready to replace you for half the pay.
“The delusional policymakers can’t hide behind the official unemployment rate for good,” said Khan.
PML-N has not been able to fulfil its promise and has compromised it.