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ISLAMABAD, Dec 12 (APP): The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) signed a partnership agreement the other day to implement a research and development project in support of adolescent and youth education, skills development and job placement as part of the ‘Generation Unlimited’ partnership in Pakistan.

“The agreement will help research, design and pre-test an accelerated and cost-effective ‘Non-Formal Education to Job Placement’ model, improve the skills and employability of the most vulnerable and economically, socially disadvantaged adolescents and youth,” a news release said Saturday.

It targets adolescents and young people who have never attended formal education or dropped out of the formal education system without achieving primary school competencies, and do not have access to education and economic opportunities.

The PSDF would work with UNICEF, federal and provincial governments, partners from civil society organizations and the private sector to design and pre-test the ‘Non-Formal Education to Job Placement’ model in Punjab.

“It aims at offering a unique, integrated solution by simultaneously (1) providing adolescents and young people age 10-19 who are outside the formal education system with the opportunity to enroll in an Accelerated Learning Program so they can achieve foundational skills in literacy and numeracy at primary school; (2) equipping those who have achieved grade 5 competency level with the job and entrepreneurial skills through training to enhance their capacities to access non-hazardous income generational opportunities; and (3) linking young people who have successfully graduated from the program to the labour market.

“We are proud that UNICEF has partnered with PSDF in Pakistan for this landmark initiative to educate and skill out-of-school adolescents,” PSDF CEO Jawad Khan said.

He termed the agreement “recognition” of the PSDF as the most innovative and progressive development sector organization in Pakistan.

“The PSDF has deep knowledge in skills training gained through managing large evidence-based and demand-driven programs, operational excellence achieved through working with largest international donors, and unmatched ability to deliver results as PSDF graduates generate annual incomes of PKR 20 Billion,” he said.

The project is part of the ‘Generation Unlimited’ (GenU) partnership in Pakistan, which aims at creating a movement to help young people, particularly adolescent girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 19, acquire the education and skills training required to access employment opportunities.

The GenU multi-sector partnership platform brings together government, private sector, civil society organizations and development partners, and forges innovative collaboration with young people, with a view to expand and link formal education and skill development.

“Pakistan has the largest generation of young people in its history, which provides unique challenges as well as opportunities,” said UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Aida Girma.

This new model, she said, was aimed at expanding opportunities for and with young people, particularly out-of-school adolescent girls and boys, providing access to quality education, skills training and employment.

“It supports the Vision of ‘Generation Unlimited’, which is to gather public and private partners around the goal of investing in young people to help them achieve their potential while supporting economic and social growth.”

In the first phase, the model would be developed and pre-tested in Punjab, following which similar programs would be started in other provinces to reach millions of young people, who lack opportunities.