Empty clichés, hollow promises, unrealistic depictions, futile motivation, tall tales… This is not a description of a politician addressing his constituents during a political rally. It is a description of something that has somewhat become an industry in our country, and which is growing at an unprecedented pace without literally any regulation or criterion. Training industry in Pakistan is booming, and quack trainers are in for making money. With the dramatic rise in the number of youth organisations and student societies, the training industry is in demand these days. Every other day a new training consultancy is being registered; or, in many cases, unregistered advisers are out there delivering services in the market. The prime audience of these consultancies is the youth. They have their distinctive modus operandi: capitalising on students’ lack of exposure and motivation in life. Others trick the ignorant youths in the garb of career counselling. Some go to the extent of honing youth’s employability skills without literally having any human resources experience themselves. So basically, who are these phoney trainers? Under the veneer of profound intellect and an eloquent tongue, someone who is lost himself (or herself) is training and guiding our youth on how to achieve a spectacular life just by sitting through the two-hour session. In a time when the younger generation has shunned the in-depth knowledge of books for the cosmetic information through social media, well-read trainers can step in to fill this gap in terms of concrete knowledge-based content in their training sessions The innocent youngsters are propelled into an imaginary world replete with success and characterised by fame. Forged anecdotes, devoid of reality, are narrated to whet their appetite for euphoria. Sensational videos and quotations are displayed to quench their thirst for motivation. Imagine all this from the perspective of a college/university student or graduate in a country where unemployment is skyrocketing, and nepotism thwarts the opportunities to present themselves, one can easily fall prey to the spectacle of this glibness. Pakistan is predominantly a young nation. Its youth is ambitious to witness a change in their prevailing socio-economic conditions. They are voracious for guidance and counselling. That’s where the phoney trainers come to exploit them. With that said, one cannot only blame the pseudo trainers for fooling the youths of our country. University administrations, government departments and NGOs soliciting the services of these trainers are equally complicit in this act. No vetting mechanism is in place to scrutinise the trainers who are paid heavily for and welcomed pompously to the training sessions in these institutes. What is more worrying is that no serious attention is paid to the content being delivered in these trainings. An insight into these sessions reveals a rather horrific picture. Years of teaching in discipline, ethical conduct and social control are being shattered and challenged by the vulgar punch lines, inherently rebellious content and methodologies that promulgate deviance being used during these trainings. The youth of this country has a vast untapped potential that can be capitalised upon if they are guided in the right direction and equipped with the right kind of skills This, however, does not mean that all our trainers are incompetent or have failed in delivering quality training. Entrepreneurs, academicians, young leaders, corporate pundits and civil society members have proved to become impactful trainers with research-based contents, who speak from their professionally acquired experiences (success and failures both). They, of course, charge hefty fees for their sessions but since they are too good at it, one cannot contest it. The purpose of this writing is not to discourage the rising speakers and trainers of our country, rather engender debate on the quality of training and conferences. No one is contesting the delivery and presentation of these sessions; they simply lack direction and substance. Superficiality has indeed crept every aspect of our life. In a time when the younger generation has shunned the in-depth knowledge of books for the cosmetic information through social media, well-read trainers can step in to fill this gap in terms of concrete knowledge-based content in their training sessions. To that end, critical societal issues like extremism, violence against women, sectarian rifts etc. can be taken up from platforms like these. A realisation of this issue is indispensable in the first place to rectify it. The problem stems from the lack of debate on it. Country’s intelligentsia and civil society must deliberate over the unbridled proliferation of training consultancies to propose a policy or mechanism to the government for regulating it. The youth of this country has a vast untapped potential that can be capitalised upon if they are guided in the right direction and equipped with the right kind of skills. Leaving them in the hands of heedless motivational trainers would be a mistake akin to leaving them in the hands of unregulated madaris. The writer is a political commentator, public speaker and Board of Directors’ member in a governmental body in Pakistan. He can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, February 16th 2018.