WASHINGTON, May 31, 2011 – The World Bank today approved a US$21 million credit for the Sindh Skills Development Project (SSDP) to assist the Government of Pakistan to strengthen its training programs for better employment outcomes of youth in the province of Sindh. The aim of the project is to provide vocational training to some 50,000 youth in order to improve their skills and employability. The project will focus on trainees between 18 and 35 years old, with special emphasis on youth from poorer and less developed districts of the province.
Access to education remains a huge challenge in Pakistan. Only a quarter of youth graduate from secondary education and a meager 4% enters the higher education system. In addition, the quality of education is weak at all levels of education, drop-out rates are high, and learning achievements are low and varied. This translates to more than three-quarters of youth exiting the education system with some foundational skills, but with few marketable skills and facing difficulties finding employment.
“With 29% of Pakistan’s 169 million people in the 15-24 age range, this amounts to a tremendous education and training challenge,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “Through this assistance, the Bank is targeting a critical need which has enormous social and economic impact for Pakistan to maximize its development and growth.”
The lack of a skilled labor force presents a significant constraint to the country’s growth and competitiveness, which underscores the need to make the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector responsive to the demand of the youth for jobs and a contributor to improved competitiveness of Pakistani firms.
As in the rest of the country, the TVET sector in Sindh is also faced with a number of challenges, notably poor relevance of training and few training opportunities. However, the provincial government is taking critical steps to address these challenges. Two positive developments have included the establishment in 2009 of the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA), an autonomous agency which has brought all technical and vocational education institutions under one common umbrella. In addition, the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Program (BBSYDP) was initiated to skill unemployed youth for employment. In just three years of operation, the BBSYDP has been successful in providing training to over 79,000 unemployed youth in Sindh.
The Bank’s funding support will be utilized by the BBSYDP for delivering training to about 50,000 trainees over a 2-3 year period. It will also be used for establishing market driven institutional training programs in STEVTA-administered institutions, to better meet the skill demands from employers, and for technical assistance to STEVTA.
“The operation will also provide synergies with on-going and larger Bank projects in basic and higher education in Pakistan”, said Andreas Blom, the Task Team Leader. “By training young people for jobs, the project will also contribute to the competitiveness of Pakistani companies and help address the lack of skilled labor faced by projects in infrastructure, such as the power, roads, and irrigation sector.”
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm with 35-year maturity, including a 10 year grace period; maximum commitment charge at 0.5% and a service charge of 0.75% p.a.