LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that youth are a precious national asset and the goal of progress and prosperity of the country can be achieved only through their empowerment.The chief minister said that the Punjab government has allocated billions of rupees in the budget of fiscal year 2015-16 for various programmes for youth empowerment. He said that a target has been fixed to impart skills to two million youth according to the market needs during next three years and a big programme has been evolved for technical training of the youth to enable them benefit from job opportunities inside and outside the country.Shahbaz said that thousands of youth have been imparted technical training under Skills Development Programme and the scope of programme is being extended to all districts of the province. He said that skilled manpower plays a key role in the strengthening of economy, therefore, special attention is being paid to produce skilled workforce to meet the market needs.The CM was talking to a delegation of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PLM-N) Youth wing in London on Tuesday.The chief minister said that the PML-N government is implementing a revolutionary programme in the light of its manifesto for the welfare and betterment of youth. He said that plenty of job opportunities are being created for unemployed youth. He said that 50 thousand vehicles are being distributed among the youth in a transparent manner under Self-Employment Scheme worth Rs 31 billion. He said that full attention has been paid in the current budget to various programmes for empowerment of youth and billions of rupees have been allocated for youth welfare schemes.Shahbaz told the delegation that Rs 5.5 billion have been allocated for laptops scheme for the youth showing outstanding performance in examinations. He said that the Punjab government has already distributed laptops worth billions of rupees purely on merit among the youth, which is helping them seeking modern knowledge.He said that Rs two billion have been allocated for Youth Internship programme, while Rs two billion have been reserved for Self-Employment Scheme.Pakistan is fortunate, as its more than 60 percent population comprises youth and an effective strategy has been adopted for their empowerment, he highlighted. Empowerment of youth and provision of job opportunities to them is an important element of the growth strategy of the Punjab government, he maintained.Around 100,000 talented children are getting education through the biggest educational fund in the country’s history, as their parents could not afford their education, Shahbaz said.A large number of resource-less but talented boy and girl students are studying in prestigious educational institutions with the help of Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF), he highlighted.He said that the PML-N government has taken effective measures for the promotion of vocational education and the steps taken by it are very helpful in their empowerment.The members of delegation paid tributes to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for his efforts to empower youth and said that the Punjab government has allocated huge funds for empowerment programmes for the youth. They said that the programmes aimed at youth empowerment would benefit the young generation.