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“ICT: an antidote for unemployment”
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“ICT: an antidote for unemployment”

Naseema PerveenUnemployment is a problem for both rural and urban youth, but Naseema Perveen, 24, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Islamabad in Pakistan, writes that technology can lead the way to opportunity and jobs.

Youth unemployment in urban and rural areas of Pakistan has been a matter of concern over the past decade.

Data from the Labour Force Survey shows that in urban areas the youth unemployment rate was 13.72 per cent during 2001-02, whereas in rural areas it remained 10.06 per cent during the same year. In 2012-13 the youth unemployment rate was 12.80 per cent in urban areas and 7.55  per cent in rural areas of Pakistan.

This suggests that unemployment rates in urban areas have always remained more than in rural areas, and that over the last decade unemployment in urban areas has declined significantly less than in rural areas.

Now the question arises, which is the sector that employs greater numbers of youth? Data from Labour Force Survey suggests that in urban areas the services sector employs a greater percentage of youth, whereas in rural areas more employment for youth is concentrated in the agriculture sector.

However, the percentage point change of youth employed in the services sector has not substantially increased, whereas in rural areas the percentage of youth employed in agriculture sector has increased, suggesting a 2.2 per cent change over the past decade. The percentage of employed youth in rural area in agriculture sector was 54.39 in 2001-2002 versus 56.59 during 2012-2013, however, the percentage of employed youth in urban youth in the services sector was 64.0 in 2001-02, which decreased to 63.60 in 2012-13.

The manufacturing sector is not contributing enough to buttress youth employment opportunities, as the percentage of employed youth in both urban and rural areas declined slightly over the past 12 years. In 2001-2002, 32.09 per cent of employed youth in urban areas were engaged in manufacturing, but the number decreased to 31.80 per cent during 2012-13. In a similar pattern, the employment rate of youth in rural manufacturing was 11.93 per cent in 2001-2002, which decreased to 11.83 per cent in 2012-2013.

The services sector employs the highest number of youth in urban areas of the country. However, its growth has not substantially increased. More youth must be engaged, trained and given proper skills. Based on statistics from the Labour Force Survey and Economic Survey, there is a clear message for policy makers that reforms should be introduced in the agriculture sector in rural areas of the country, and micro-finance loans should be provided to encourage entrepreneurship. The manufacturing sector is once again lagging behind, both in rural and urban areas. The energy sector should be rehabilitated in order to improve employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector.

Due to lack of credit and investment, combined with an unstable economy, youth face unending employment issues. This agony can be addressed by technology-based solutions that help us introduce more employment opportunities online. People can reach the global labour market through information and communication technology (ICT) that has enabled independent tech savvy workers to connect to potential employers who value their skills.  Technology fuels entrepreneurship, and ICT has reduced distances to make the global market more accessible than ever – which has minimized the gap between labour supply and demand.

The private sector is doing a great job. I am highly inspired by the World Bank, USAID and the Karakorum Area Development Organization (KADO), which have introduced entrepreneurship portfolios among youth by empowering them through advanced technology.

Public attempts to empower youth have struggled. In 2010 the subject of youth devolved to the provinces, however the Ministry of Youth Affairs in each province faces inefficiency. Various projects including a youth laptop scheme and youth loan scheme have not been successful in achieving their goal. Due to the lack of training and skill, youths are unable to use the resources and there is insufficient accountability to follow up on sustainable opportunities. A public-private partnership is essential in order to evolve more technology-based opportunities for youth.

The online job market is quite large and is expanding at a rapid pace. According to a World Bank statement in August, 2014, five million jobs were posted on Elance.com, which has a total worth of five billion dollars. More accurate data suggests that every second, 15 jobs are created online. This reveals how efficient and dynamic the online labour market has become.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an antidote for the anguish youth is facing in our country. Given this, there is dire need to create awareness and to train youth so that they can approach potential employers irrespective of their geographical boundaries.

Reach me on Twitter @naseema0
photo credit: Success is via photopin (license)

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About me:

I am a blogger, writer, and a social person. I am a responsible, trust worthy and friendly person. My aim of writing is to address the social issues, many of which remain unnoticed.
I am an Economics graduate of Quaid-i-AzamUniversity, Islamabad. I aspire to make my career in social development as a social worker. I have passion to work with people from all walks of life and I believe social development is only possible through common effort and consultation.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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