MULTAN-USAID Punjab Director Kevin Sharp has said that the US agency will continue support for community development initiatives to help the youth and women of South Punjab acquire skills, get jobs, start or expand their small businesses and gain from career counselling services to secure employment.

He observed this while kicking off his maiden trip to South Punjab here on Tuesday. Mr Sharp visited Punjab Youth Workforce Development Project’s (PYWD) community initiative - one-window Facilitation Centre - established on the premises of Muzaffargarh Deputy Commissioner’s office, met with local business community at Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), participated in the graduation ceremony of youth who successfully completed their technical and vocational training courses run by the PYWD and talked to representatives of local community.

Since 2017, the USAID- Punjab Youth Workforce Development Project (PYWD) has played an instrumental role in helping young yet marginalised Pakistanis of South Punjab to acquire skills, get jobs, start or expand their small businesses, gain from career counselling services to secure employment and meet their requirements and that too with the support of communities and public-private sector engagement.

Accompanied by PYWD’s Chief of Party Mr Qaiser Nadeem, the USAID Provincial Director was received by Deputy Commissioner Muzaffargarh and was taken around the facilitation centre and briefed about the civic services provided under one-roof. This one-of-its-kind facilitation centre is the replacement and integration of four governmental services, including issuance of domicile certificate, armed licence, route permit, and record copying under one roof, easing Citizens vs. Governmental interphase. Prior, there were several departments involved in the provision of these civic services to citizens. Each department was providing one or more service through different laborious processes, which was mostly manual. Since its inauguration by Counsel General USAID Colleen in May 2019, the facilitation centre serves the citizen of Muzaffargarh with its multifunctional services with much efficiently, and in timely manner not to mention provides a comfortable environment to begin with.

Following the visit to one-window facilitation centre, USAID Provincial Director Mr. Sharp then proceeded to Multan to participate in an event, organised to recognise and energise the final badges of PYWD youth who successfully completed their technical and vocational training courses and are now ready to kick-start their employments in scores of viable trades befitting to start their own businesses or well poised to get inductions in public and private sectors.

The USAID Provincial Director witnessed and distributed graduation certificates to COTHM pass-outs, awards best performing entrepreneurs, who established their small businesses after receiving PYWD/Akhuwat micro-finance loan and awarded quality toolkits relating to different trades among the BISP, TEVTA and PVTC graduated youth.

On the occasion, the successful youth showcased their youthful promise by performing in different skits and exhibited their deft realisation of civic responsibility and sensitisation towards active participation to make Pakistan a better place to live in.

During the course of its three-year of implementation, the PYWD project has established partnerships with over 74 businesses and fostered viable and robust linkages between the vocational and technical training institutes and respective industry.

It was in this regard, the USAID Punjab director arrived at Multan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (MCCI) to participate in a focus group discussion with the representatives of businesses, industry, and training providers which was aimed to explore public-private partnership possibilities and deliberate on emerging business trends in PYWD focus districts.

Moreover deliberations were made to assess the true impact of on-the-job training and placement models, PYWD successfully initiated in liaison with industries. In addition, the participants made their observations regarding the current sector priorities and how well TVET and other industrial collaborations would help to nurture sustainable youth empowerment.

Followed by the focused group discussion, Kevin Sharp held a working group meeting with the representatives of lead NGOs and local community based organisations to discuss the role and responsibilities of the COs and their institutional capacity building initiatives. The meeting will subsequently lead to the designing and finalisation of pilot work plan for the Community Organisations.