To solve the problems of youth development highlighted in the previous article of this series, I suggest that a federal authority be raised and dedicated to conceptualise, formulate and implement a major youth development program (YDP). I suggest that this authority establish and oversee YDP’s by reaching out at the district and tehsil levels. The scope of the YDP’s should extend to both soft and hard skill development. The Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) system which is presently operational at the provincial level should be merged with this program. The TEVTA initiative, though commendable, is still a drop in the ocean. Its training programs should be radically expanded to cover many more participants in all geographic regions. The disciplines should also be enhanced to cover all significant jobs in demand in the industry. The curriculum and its delivery should be standardised and ISO certified. To reduce project costs, the government can establish the YDP centers in existing educational buildings, working in evening shifts and employing regular faculty and staff willing to work part time. This staff should be provided appropriate training. These centers should accomplish defined standards and certify for various types of labour. Once a model is established and consolidated, the private schools and colleges should be encouraged to build capacity and obtain licenses to undertake YDP programs with authority to issue certificates. Businesses should be made aware of and encouraged to recruit on the basis of such certifications. Once sufficient number of youth has been trained, it should be made mandatory for the youth to obtain entry level employment in the public or private sector in their choice industry for a period of three years under the proposed YDP authority’s placement program. The program can also extend to such employment in armed forces. The various public sector organisations could develop their own rules to employ the youth in its ranks while harmonising them with the YDP authority. The compensation for such placement should be fixed at the subsistence level, in consultation with industrial and public sector organisations. On satisfactory completion of that period, the employer should generate a report and submit it to the YDP authority which should in turn furnish that report to future employers on their request. While protecting the youth in this process from workplace abuse and other forms of harassment and exploitation, relevant labour laws should set a high threshold for worker complaints to the labour courts. In my view, this arrangement would incentivise the youth to acquire skills and ingrain them at the workplace so that they find the direction and confidence to succeed in future employment. A well trained workforce will also help employers mitigate the above mentioned problems of employee turnover, where applicable, leverage a vast pool of energetic young people to perform demanding tasks, and reduce their business or organisational costs while creating tremendous additional value. Therefore, this program would at once fix multiple problems relating to youth training and job worthiness, while boosting SME’s and public sector efficiency, potentially creating a gigantic economic surplus. The proposed Youth Development Program authority should also give a high priority to seeking overseas employment opportunities for the youth, both at blue and white collar levels The above is of course, a broad suggestion. The details would need to be worked out by the YDP authority. Apart from catering to the needs of the youth already in the job market or about to enter it, the authority would also need to figure out ways to institutionalise soft skills training in the mainstream education in future and syllabi could be accordingly amended. Similarly, the existing internship programs for the professional level workforce should also be revamped and implemented. The graduates of professional colleges should also be required to undergo the above suggested skill development programs and regular curriculums would need revisions for the future. If the consultations with the stakeholders find it practical, professional level job entrants could also be required to undergo the mandatory three year employment in desired industries under the program suggested for the blue collared labor. While the demand side of the youth development problem is the subject of the next article of this series, it is pertinent to suggest here that the placement department of the proposed YDP authority should also give a high priority to seek overseas employment opportunities for youth, both at blue and white collar levels, for the youth graduating from this program; the highest government offices should seek labour supply contracts with Pakistan-friendly countries facing a shortage of labour, as a strategy to develop the youth as a main export. Indeed, this will necessitate the requisite quality of youth development program delivery and will be an incentive in itself for the youth and the YDP authority alike. Pakistan’s youth bulge had been staring in the past two governments in the face for the last decade or so. Yet, surprisingly little was done about it. The stakes are too high for the new government to leave this matter unattended any longer, or else the country’s very stability will be at risk. Pakistan’s private sector is clearly not in a position to address what has become a full blown problem at this juncture, without significant help from the government. The youth is a country’s most precious asset, which the government must develop with highest sense of urgency. However, as previously argued, youth development per se is just one side of the equation in economic terms. It needs a concomitant effort to accelerate the economic growth to create jobs for a rising number of additional young people entering the labour market, which by one estimate is 3.6 million per annum and has been largely unabsorbed for the past several years. Therefore, apart from the other plans for economic development, a particular attention to growth of and support for SME’s is indispensable for any YDP to succeed, given the fact that SME’s employ over 90 percent of non-agriculture workforce and as such are the most potent vehicle for job creation and economic development. SME development is the subject of my next two articles. The writer is a graduate of MIT, an experienced entrepreneur based in Islamabad, with previous service in the public sector. He can be contacted at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, September 26th 2018.