ISLAMABAD, June 16 (APP): Based on projected population growth rate of 1.9 per cent and increase in participation rate, the workforce was estimated to grow approximately 2.0 per cent in 2016-17.

It indicates that approximately 1.26 million additional jobs would be required to absorb the growing workforce, official sources said on Thursday.

The sources told APP that the GDP growth target for 2016-17 has been set at 5.7 per cent and the prevailing employment elasticity was 0.46, therefore it was expected that the given GDP growth would not only absorb the growing labour force, but also clear some portion of the backlog.

They added that policy initiatives like enhancement of development programmes, increased focus on technical training and skills development, and generation of productive employment opportunities through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and energy projects would ensure smooth functioning of labour market in 2016-17. Following is details of the program.

The sources said that after acquiring stabilization, government was now embarking on high growth strategy to create higher employment opportunities.

“Enhanced size of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and investment in the CPEC would increase GDP growth to 5.7 per cent and also generate employment”, they remarked.

The sources added that “energy is the lifeline of an economy and plays a vital role to sustain industrial, commercial and domestic activities.

Because of the government’s concerted efforts 386MW new capacity was added during 2015-16 and another 2,500MW would be added this year that would ensure uninterrupted supply of energy to industry and eventually improve the employment prospects in the economy.

The official sources said that under the CPEC, an inflow of financial resources of $46 billion was expected which come to about Rs 800 billion per annum or 2.8 per cent of the current GDP every year.

“This investment will spur economic activity and create around 2 million direct and indirect new jobs”, they remarked.

They further said that under Youth Business Loan Scheme, the young entrepreneurs in the age group of 21-45 years were being provided subsidized financing through designated financial institutions and disbursement is Rs 10.5 billion to over 10,000 youth.

The youths, they said, under this scheme, were not only creating employment for themselves by establishing their own businesses, but also creating employment opportunities for others.

Similarly, they said that under Interest-Free Loan Scheme, the government has provided an option to the youth to set up their enterprises by utilizing interest-free loan facilities.

For this scheme, they said an amount of Rs 3.5 billion has been allocated, out of which more than 90 per cent amount has already been disbursed in the form of 132,000 loans with 100 per cent recovery rate.

The sources added that about 60 per cent beneficiaries were females.

They informed that about 250 centers were opened across Pakistan for providing advisory services to the beneficiaries while loans were being administrated through Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and have been best utilized not only for employment generation but also social uplift of the society.

Regarding Overseas employment, they said that during last three years a significant increase has been seen in overseas employment.

During this period, they said that about 2.3 million Pakistani workers went abroad for seeking jobs.

They added that in the year 2012-13, about 6,22,714 workers went abroad while in 2014-15, about 9,46,571 workers emigrated for employment.

The official sources further informed that about 1,105,741 workers went to Saudi-Arabia, 135375 to Oman, 950,742 to UAE, 27,855 to Bahrain, 42,824 to Malaysia and 30,902 workers went to Qatar.

“If these workers had not gone abroad, the unemployment rate would have been 7.4 per cent instead of 5.94 per cent. About eight million Pakistanis were living and working abroad”, they remarked.

However, they observed that although overseas employment for Pakistani workers was encouraging so far, yet persistent fall in oil prices could pose a new challenge in the shape of decline in labour demand in Gulf countries.

They said that overseas employment issue calls for a vibrant and comprehensive Human Resources Development (HRD) programme to produce a highly skilled manpower in non-traditional trades and a forward looking overseas employment promotion policy to hunt job opportunities in non-oil exporting countries.

Regarding skill development, they said that nature and quality of skill sets of an economy was the major determinant of its competitiveness and quality of life of its people.

The skill development and decent jobs, they said therefore, have the central place in the inclusive growth strategy.

The sources added that “skill development not only increase productivity, it also enhances the labour force participation rate. Further, the labour market efficiency will be enhanced through the labour market reforms, sector-specific workforce development, increased women participation in lab our force and provision of local opportunities to avoid brain drain”.

The Chine-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), they said has far-reaching impacts on the national economy as it was offering a unique opportunity to effectively harness the demographic dividend.

Moreover, they said the regional demand of the skilled workforce offers another opportunity to increase the inflow of foreign remittances.

To realize this objective, they said that the National Technical Vocational Commission (NAVTTC) and National Training Bureau (NTB) were imparting training in areas including; hospitality, agriculture, (dairy and animal nutrition management), horticulture, construction, information technology and telecommunications, skill for women, light engineering, paramedics, services, etc.

Furthermore, they said the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development makes policies for employment promotion abroad, takes measures for the welfare of the Pakistani emigrants and their dependents in Pakistan, and coordinates with the provincial governments to align national labour laws with Pakistan’s international obligations of labour standards.