Pakistan, with an estimated increase of 2% a year, is seeing its population growing. By 2025, Pakistan’s population is projected to rise to over 227 million, with 63 per cent under the age of 30. This growing youth population represents a demographic window of opportunity for the country, provided that the education and training systems increases its outreach and the market relevance of its programmes.
Currently, Pakistan’s young population faces major deficits in educational attainment. Because of insufficient education provision, only one in five children will get the opportunity to continue their education beyond primary school level. Less than 6 per cent of young people have acquired technical skills through the TVET system, and only 2.5 per cent have received any type of on-the-job training, while over 60 per cent of the country’s labour force has primary level education or less. As a consequence, young people aspiring to enter the labour market are doubly disadvantaged with low educational attainment and limited skill sets.
In recent years, skills development has emerged as a priority area in the policy discourse on sustainable economic development, with TVET proposed as a viable pathway to achieving its implementation. However, Pakistan’s TVET system faces many challenges, including the lack of capacity to reach out to everyone, the lack of skills portability, overlaps in institutional arrangements, indefinite roles and remits, and the lack of understanding of skills demand.
Efforts are being made to address these challenges. Pakistan’s first specific policy in the skills sector proposes a paradigm shift from curricula-based education to Competency-Based Training (CBT). Furthermore, it envisions a shift from supply-led training to demand-driven skills development by promoting the role of industries in both the design and delivery of TVET. Key reforms proposed by the National Skills Strategy (NSS) include the overhaul of the apprenticeship system, particularly by encouraging entrepreneurship, integrating informal economy workers into the formal sector, establishing a National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVQF) and registering and accrediting TVET institutes. Lastly, the National TVET Policy highlights the importance of the implementation of a TVET Quality Assurance System.