Youth Skills Training for Employment in Pakistan

October 24, 2011


Students in Hyderabad, Pakistan, learn how to work in a call center.

Muzammil Pasha/World Bank

New Opportunites

In order to tackle the problem of insufficient skilled workforce for Pakistan’s future economic growth, the Sindh Skills Development Project was signed to better equip 50,000 youth in Sindh Province with relevant skills to increase employability of trainees.

Vocational Education in Pakistan

Hina is a 22-year-old from Sindh who just finished her bachelor's degree. However, she could not initially find a job as she lacks practical skills and does not have any personal connection with employers. Her family wondered whether the investment was worthwhile especially as almost all the youth around the neighborhood are either unemployed or underemployed since they lacked appropriate skills.

Employers value skilled hires so that they can save time and money on training new employees but have difficulties doing so. After learning about an architecture and interior design course offered at Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA), Hina decided to enter the program and acquired skills in architecture to help her father’s business. Watching her draft a building design, her commitment, eagerness to learn, and pursuit of success were clear.

Challenges in Pakistan

Three main challenges in Pakistan are limited access to education and vocational training, the low quality of education and training, and a shortage of skilled labor for the country’s future growth.

Access to education and training is still limited. There's a wide disparity between male-female, rural-urban, and different regions. Not even 4% of the total population enters into higher education and less than 1% of the population have ever received technical education and vocational training.

Even for students that have access to education and training, quality can be uneven. More than ¾ of the graduates have some foundational skills but no marketable skills for employment. This evidence says that the training programs are not relevant to the skills demanded. The poor training quality can be attributed to inefficient public administration of training programs, lack of interaction with industry, and outdated infrastructure of public institutions.

Skilled Workforce ranks as the sixth-highest issue (out of 15) in The Pakistan Competitiveness Report 2009 among the most problematic factors for doing business in Pakistan. Graduates of training institutions is not meeting the demand.

What Approaches Are Being Taken?

The Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Program (BBSYDP) and Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA) will strengthen their training programs to improve the quality of the training programs and measure the impact of training on employment.

The project will train 50,000 youth through providing more and better quality training programs leveraging existing training programs in BBSYDP and STEVTA. To achieve this goal, the project will expand and increase the impact of existing BBSYDP short-term training through additional financing and offering modest stipends to trainees. The project will also establish market driven institutions through upgrading current programs or creating 70 new programs at STEVTA administered institutions. It will also build the capacity of STEVTA to establish market driven institutions. Activities will include the introduction of better information systems and policies, enhanced monitoring, evaluation and results dissemination.

What Is Innovative About This Project?

One of the innovations of the project will be using performance contracts with both public and private training providers. BBSYDP currently provides training through contracts with various training providers. In order to improve the training outcomes and maximize returns on investment, performance contract will be used to ensure the results from financing.

The second innovation is demand-driven institutional training in public training institutions: Traditional training programs have not necessarily met the labor market demand. This project will select training providers competitively to re-design or establish new programs to meet demonstrated local labor market needs. Priorities will be placed on progress with female and rural trainees.

How Is the World Bank Helping?

The International Development Association financially supports this project through Specific Investment Loan (SIL) instrument with a $21 million IDA credit to provide assistance to the government of Sindh, which was signed on Oct. 21, 2011.