Pakistan is blessed with one of the most significant factors that play an important role in development of any country: number of youth. According to UNESCO, Pakistan has one of the largest youth forces in the world. Moreover, it is also the 10th largest country in the world according to the labor force size. Despite these promising statistics, Pakistan lacks in providing educational, training, and employment opportunities to its youngsters.
A recent survey conducted by Commonwealth Youth Development Index and Report 2016 shows that Pakistan stands at the 154th rank amongst 183 countries, which is even worse than war torn Syria on 137. The same survey also shows that Pakistan stands at rank 156th in youth education and 154th in employment and opportunity.
Considering the deteriorating figures, vocational training sector should have been strong but unfortunately, we also lack here. Out of the total population of Pakistan, only 2.5% of working population acquire On-Job-Training while 73.8% are engaged in Informal Economy. Moreover, only 6% acquire skills (Technical Vocational Education & Training). The number of technical and vocational training institutes is not sufficient and many are deprived of infrastructure, teachers and tools for training.
Realizing the dire need for skill development and vocational trainings for Pakistani youth, in 2008 Habib University Foundation (H.U.F) founded Institute for Advancing Careers and Talents (iACT) with collaboration of local government of Karachi. iACT, since its inception, has been diligently working for the development and empowerment of the youth from marginalized areas of Karachi.
iACT, established in 2008, is a non-profitable career development center that offers subsidized, innovative and futuristic career and skill based education to young population from areas stricken with poverty, violence, and crime.
iACT brings young people from areas like Lyari, Korangi, Landhi, Malir, and other parts of Karachi to iACT to enhance their abilities through trainings and strengthen their relations with community through sports and other physical activities.
The institute offers free of cost, as well as scholarship based courses and trainings to the youth aged between 16 and 30 years in various fields.
Youth Development through Courses and Trainings
For the students interested in textile designing and stitching, iACT offers fashion designing, industrial stitching, and pattern making. On the other hand, for young minds who love to express their creativity through arts and animations, iACT offers creative designing, professional digital photography, graphic designing, and animation & production trainings.
Other courses offered to youth include English language, office administration, information technology, computerized accounting, logistics & supply chain, and customer support & sales, web designing, and application development.
Apart from equipping them with professional trainings through learning-by-doing model, iACT also stresses upon their personality development and engaging them in healthy activities. Personal and Career Development (PCD) is another core aspect of iACT’s curriculum through which it grooms students’ personality and prepares them for their professional life. Moreover, to ensure better employment prospects for students, iACT also offers career planning and guidance services to the enrolled students through regular career counseling sessions.
Until now, more than 2000 young people have passed out from the institute and around 1500 have been successfully placed in different companies. iACT does not abandon its students once they graduate, in fact, it places them in different jobs and helps them start their small businesses.
The institute has partnered with renowned brands as On-Job-Training (OJT) partners. Many alumni of iACT are not only working as permanent employees in different organizations, but several of them have started their own small businesses in the fields of photography, fashion designing, and creative designing.
Developing Athletic Capabilities
Along with honing cognitive skills, iACT also develops athletic capabilities by conducting sports activities and coaching camps. Sports and other physical activities are vital parts of students’ life. The students are not only given time to play different outdoor and indoor sports after their classes, regular sports weeks and tournaments are also organized to inculcate sense of team building and positive competition amongst them.
The academic trainings and sports events are offered to the students with the support of various governmental and international organizations, such as Social Welfare Department, Govt. of Sindh; Sports & Youth Affairs Department, Govt. of Sindh, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pakistan, Karachi Youth Initiative and GIZ.
The advantages of vocational trainings for students are that they facilitate direct entry to the labor market. Being one of the few such centers in Pakistan, iACT is fulfilling its responsibility and pledges to change more lives in coming years.