“The failure to create meaningful employment is the most tragic failure of development” – Pearson Report Some of us remain confused about our careers because we aren’t sure where our interests lie and what we should opt to study. At the same time, the broader environment compliments this perturbed state as most schools don’t provide adequate career counseling, which would help us apply for careers and go for subjects that would be right for us. There is no doubt that Pakistan is a fast-moving economy but, with a derailed labour force. Amidst the dysphoria that the workforce faces in its prime years, the hardcore fact that remains a subject of debate amongst the youth and relevant scholars is whether Pakistan lacks satisfactory career counseling or a range of suitable careers for the bulging population that fails to adjust in the economic system. Majority of the youngsters try their shots in all fields because of which neither do they get to know about their strengths; nor does the world. An absence of professional guidance coupled with a sense of unabashed disorientation ultimately blocks the dim light of potential that could have intensified. In addition to these structural issues at the grass root level, parental paths and burdens of sustaining traditions leads towards ultimate failure. “After doing my pre-medical, I got my undergraduate degree in political science but then I found out I was more interested in fine arts and literature,” a young worker says. A middle-aged girl working in the finance department of a corporate entity revealed how she was interested in law but could not pursue it as she didn’t get apt guidance before her A-levels, a British examination system prevalent in Pakistan, and therefore chose subjects that she had to pursue later due to lack of another option. Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world with a population of 219m. Given the current rate of population growth, it is estimated to reach 280m by 2030. At present, 63pc of the population is below the age of 30. Therefore, in a country where supply is abundant, the rationale behind success is a perfect match of abilities (interest) with an adequate career choice; a combination extremely scarce in the country. Despite hundreds of educational institutes training thousands of children and young adults to enter the market, yet an accurate placement in it has never been witnessed due to mechanisms that would provide enlightened guidance. It is because the employment challenge does not merely end at just generating jobs but also extends to ensuring ‘gainful/productive’ employment. Again, a dismal state of economic and political affairs has failed to produce a system that endorses a spectrum of technologically and economically apt careers that befit individuals and their future prospects. A survey of the industry concludes that only a few careers in Pakistan provide the status, finances and skill development that come at par with international organizations such as medicine, pharmacy, law, civil services and opportunities in the corporate sector while others lead to a dead-end road. Zahir Shah, a mathematician, who completed his postdoctoral fellowship in Bangkok in 2019 and returned to Pakistan vouches that too many bright and talent minds are at loggerheads for opportunities very few in number. He reveals how he faced issues in finding a good designation, “Too many PhD doctors are competing for very few posts.” Realisation of this issue is intrinsically connected to a) enhancing the economy’s capacity to absorb the young workers into productive employment, b) profound investments in career training and counseling c) empowering them to engage meaningfully across the social and political landscape. What to do? An integrated policy at the federal level is required to address youth development as a cross-sectoral issue. Pakistan currently lacks a national youth policy which would accelerate efforts for the youth. More initiatives like the Kamyab Jawan Program (KJP) and Skilled Education Program must be encouraged to bring about better job opportunities. The government has so far disbursed around Rs 1 billion among the female entrepreneurs under these initiatives which is a positive sign. In addition, efforts on behalf of the private sector are also due. The private sector must take it as a challenge to come forward and establish a separate department at all levels to guide new entrants in making choices for the right discipline and consequently, the right profession. Educational institutions, at their own level, must engage consultants to develop programmes for the aptitude evaluation of the youth to strengthen their prospects. In terms of career prospects, government must play an active role in intensifying efforts to impart technical education so as to open wider choices just like in the west where courses are offered for a variety of professions such as in mechanics, IT, science, health and others. Such alternatives are always preferred due to their attractive financial packages. Likewise, the government must give due protection to private employees in terms of job security.