National Vocational & Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) in collaboration with Federation of Pakistani Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) launched the first-ever National Skills Forum (NSF) on Monday as a platform to promote strategic partnerships between the industry and private and public sector organizations delivering technical education and vocational training across the country.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training, Shafqat Mehmood said that increased collaboration between public and private sector will drive the promotion of technical skills in the country and National Skills Forum will become a platform from where lots of new ideas for skill development will be put forward. "The government is committed to alleviating poverty and generate huge employment opportunities for youth and for this purpose, it is focusing on four important objectives," he said.
Sharing details regarding challenges being faced in education sector, he said out of school children (OOSC) is one of them, adding the government is committed to enrolling the maximum number of these children. "Our top priority is to enroll around 22 million out-of-the-school children in primary schools," he added. Shafqat Mehmood further said provision of equity in education system is another challenge which will be overcome by creating single education system through single curriculum so that people can compete on same level of education. "We have different streams of education due to which the maximum number of positions are taken by the students studying in private educational institutions," he said. He expressed concern that there are various systems of education prevalent in the country and there is also huge disparity between public and private institutes' syllabus and curriculum.
The minister said the last but not the least challenge is the provision of quality education to the students. "We have to be focused to develop some sort of single national certification and curriculum system for creating a level playing field for our children so that they are able to compete on same standards and platforms," he said. The minister further said that the government is seriously working on improving the quality of education, he said. "We are also focused on skill development and will make sure that our youth acquire marketable skills so that they can enter the job market any where in the world and for this purpose, strong support from industry is need of the hour," he added. He also emphasized on educating and empowering women for a better Pakistan.
Mehmood said the government profoundly realized the challenges being faced by the country and committed to addressing them on priority by utilizing all available resources. "We have a number of educated youth but unfortunately they have low standard of education. We have to provide technical and vocational training to our youth in different demand driven sectors so that they could be able to get jobs across the globe," he underlined. Emphasizing the need of girls' education in the country, the minister said the government will educate the women on priority as they play key role in establishing the society.
Director General of NAVTTC, Zulfiqar Ahmad Cheema said Pakistan has around 70 million youth which need to be equipped with technical skills. This youth is not only a heavy burden on the country's economy but is also a threat to the security and peace, he added. Cheema said that the industry has a strong role to play in the policy formulation for skill development and bringing a paradigm shift in the delivery of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the country. While explaining the major aims of NSF, he said, "The National Skills Forum is established to address the disconnect between stakeholders from public and private sector active in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) through advocacy and awareness, provide strategic guidance regarding the implementation of the TVET programs, discuss broad strategic and policy issues, and oversee the progress on TVET sector reform in Pakistan. TVET sector has the potential to change the destiny of our nation" he stressed.
Ambassadors of Norway Kjell-Gunar Ericsson, Ambassador of Germany Martin Kobler and Ambassador of European Union in Pakistan Jean Francois Cautian appreciated the initiative and called it a milestone achieved for the partnership among public-private sector for promotion of TVET. They expressed hope that the present government will allot special funds for skill development and start new projects for the uplift of TVET sector of the country. They urged to improve the quality of the training so that trained skilled workers could easily secure jobs in various CPEC projects.
Ambassador of Germany, Marten Kobler speaking on the occasion said Pakistan should utilize the benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by equipping the youth with technical skills. He underlined the need for encouraging the women in business chamber of commerce. He revealed that Pakistan will have 400 million inhabitants by 2050 which is a big challenge for the country, adding it can be resolved through provision of technical skills.
Ambassador of European Union, Jean-François Cautian said Pakistan needs skilled labor force on urgent basis to fulfill the needs of the CPEC. He reiterated EU's full support in the provision of technical skills to the youth.
President FPCCI Ghazanfar Bilour congratulated NAVTTC for establishing a national apex forum for promotion of public private partnership and envisioned hopes for the achievement of the objectives laid down at this platform.