Written on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 by Steve Peacock
The Obama Administration’s Youth Workforce Development Program (YWDP) promises to deal with the growing number of “idle, disaffected youth” nationwide—that is, in the nation of Pakistan.
The initiative comes at a time when the U.S. Department of Labor acknowledges that the unemployment rate for American teenagers in March remained about the same as in February: 24.2 percent.
Domestically the overall unemployment rate—despite dipping slightly to 7.6 percent in March—largely has remained unchanged since September 2012.
Similarly, these most recent numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) point out that the number of people employed part time for economic reasons “fell by 350,000 over the month to 7.6 million.
“These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job,” the BLS monthly report said.
The number of those who have been jobless for at least 27 weeks or longer was little changed at 4.6 million, accounting for “39.6 percent of the unemployed.”
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, Obama’s YWDP initiative will aim to boost educational and employment opportunities for people aged 15-36.
A corollary aim, however, is to change cultural norms specific to elevating the ability of women to “have a voice in household decision making,” according to a Request for Quotations that Patriot Update located through routine database research.
“Many women do not have sufficient formal education to be able to seek highly paid jobs,” the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says in the RFQ. “While some can be employed, others engage in home-based work which will allow them to earn an income.”
Creating scholarships, apprenticeships, and providing small businesses and entrepreneurs with greater access to financing are among some of the ways that USAID intends to make gains in Pakistan. The selected contractor will provide guidance on how to accomplish these tasks.
“The working hypothesis is that better income-generation opportunities for youth will reduce the radicalization risk among vulnerable youth and help Pakistan achieve its stabilization objectives,” the RFQ says.
“YWFD will be a key element of the [U.S. government] interagency efforts at countering violent extremism and in stabilizing areas that have become increasingly vulnerable to violence.”
USAID points out that Pakistan, particularly in the city of Karachi as well the regions of Southern Punjab and KP (Khyber Pakhtoonkhwah)//FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), continue to experience a surge in youth population. The majority of that populace, the agency says, is unemployed or under-employed.
The overarching project goal, therefore, is to “create stable economic opportunities for 65,000 youth” as a way to counter violent extremism among that segment.
USAID intend to move quickly on this endeavor, as the RFQ explicitly advises contractors that they “must be based in Pakistan or have a Pakistani presence which enables them to begin [program] implementation by no later than April 22.”
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