Lahore (Muhammad Yasir)
Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) and Lahore School of Economics (LSE) have created an innovative digital skill development program that aims to not only train its learners but understand how Pakistan’s female citizens can be best encouraged to participate in the workforce. In this pilot program female students from select government colleges will be given access to digital courses that are in high demand in the current job market. This pilot program is unique because it engages both the female students and their parents to understand the underlying reasons of why parents proactively do not invest in daughters’ education and identify relevant factors that prevent girls from taking up skills training programs. The program is part of PSDF’s specialized training areas Uraan and e-tayyar which aim to develop crucial digital skills amongst its female learners to increase women’s confidence and access to skills that increase their employability. The partnership with LSE is to conduct research and create evidence-based development programs that will accelerate the socio-economic abilities of female citizens and encourage female labor force participation (FLFP). Head of Marketing and Communication at PSDF Akbar Hussain explains, “The partnership between PSDF and LSE is a step in the right direction. The pilot program will train 300 female students in digital skills, and we expect to complete it by May 2023. Students will also receive a stipend upon successful completion of their training. Based on the success and evidence generated by the pilot –we aim to launch this program on a larger scale so more women can benefit from this”. One of the key economic issues facing Pakistan is the low level of female participation in the job market. In Punjab alone, there are around 44.5 million females of working age however, only a quarter participate in the labor market. Studies have shown that lack of encouragement, family support and adequate skills prevent women from entering the labor force and accessing income-generating opportunities.