Staggering majority of youth want early elections; A failing education system is behind high rate of youth unemployment: Voice of Youth Survey, Nov’22

December 15: The following is a summary of the most important information gleaned from a poll that was taken among 311 members of PILDAT’s 17th Youth Parliament Pakistan. These individuals were selected from 232 (85.3% of the total 272 National Assembly Constituencies) of Pakistan’s total 272 National Assembly Constituencies, as well as from Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, and Overseas Pakistanis. The poll was carried out during the dates of November 22 and December 02, 2022.

Brief Overview of the Survey Results:

According to the youth surveyed, the top three issues that are going to be the most significant to the people of Pakistan to make decisive action in the 2023 General Election are: Rising Inflation, Unemployment & Corruption. Closely following them were lack quality education and availability; and rising cost of fuel within the country.

A large group, 70.5%, of respondents are in agreement with the call for early elections while about 26.4% were in disagreement and believed that the next elections should be held as originally decided in 2023 and a small 3.1% were not sure.

When asked about their support for Mr. Imran Khan’s Haqeeqi Azaadi March, about half (51.2%) of the respondents were in favour of it while the other half were against it. Similarly, when asked about performance of the PDM government in response to the flood crisis in Pakistan, a significant portion (63.3%) believed the flood relief activities to be largely unsuccessful.

On the upside, an overwhelming 92.3% of the respondents are determined to cast their vote in the upcoming general elections, which paints a more hopeful picture for Pakistan and its future as youth have always had low voter turnouts in the past elections.

With increased number of politicians choosing to contest elections from numerous seats, youth was asked what they thought about this practice and 66.9% said contesting from more than one constituency should not be allowed by law while 28% believed that this practice should be allowed and continued.

A recent Pakistani film, Joyland, was banned within the country due to one of the lead characters being transgender; when asked for their thoughts on this, the youth body showed a divided stance. 43.5% of the respondents opposed the ban on the film in Pakistan, while 36% supported the ban. 20.6% of the young respondents did not know what to make of the situation and did not voice out their opinion.

The survey showed that many of the young people surveyed (71.4%) either worked or are still working while pursuing their studies. Only a mere 28.6% had the opportunity to not work while completing their education.

To gauge what the youth thinks of the educational qualification requirements of today’s job markets, 45.7% believe having at least a Bachelors is a must while 29.6% think that many have to obtain a post-graduation degree to find a good job. Others were also of the opinion that educational qualifications are not important, instead having a good reference is what youth of today need.

Know-how of the IT field (71.4%), collaboration and communication abilities (70.7%) and quality education (48.2%) were cited by the respondents as the top 3 most sought-after skills and qualifications that hiring staff looks in a potential candidate. Once again, many stated that instead of these skills and qualifications, one must have a strong network and reference to succeed in the competitive environment.

Similarly, when asked about the existing barriers to entry in the job market, a bleak image is painted for the education system of the country which doesn’t prepare youth for the professional life. A gap between what is taught and what is required was the selected as the top most barrier by 52.1% of the respondents, followed by lack of opportunities (47.6%), lack of appropriate and relevant vocational programmes (40.8%) and educational degrees (32.5%). This demonstrates quite clearly that the educational system has to be updated so that it can meet the requirements of today’s youth.

Entrepreneurship has been booming globally as well as within Pakistan and the poll’s answers reiterate the same, with 56.3% of the respondents wanting to launch their own business and just 34.4% being eager to join the workforce. When asked which industry they prefer to join, the defence and public administration industry came out at the top (47.9%), followed by social, personal and community-based work (43.4%), non-profit organisations/think-tank industry (24.4%), agro-based and livestock industry (23.2%) and the real estate industry (20.6%).

Despite high rates of unemployment and a lack of opportunities, 52.1% of youth are likely to only take a job if it is secure, pays well and matches their skill set, while 18% are willing to take any job within their skill set and regardless of their personal circumstances (12.9%).

While provinces set their own minimum wage rate, the average wage rate is PKR 25,000 per month for unskilled labour but 71.7% said that they have their own minimum level of income under which they will not accept a job. Majority stated PKR 50,000 as the starting salary and the years of experience went up, the acceptable salary went up to one to two lacs.

When asked whether they had used the government’s employment services as a job seeker, 47.6% stated that they had done so before but unfortunately, an astounding 73.6% of these people had received no guidance or aid from the service.

A shocking 36% of respondents believed that women and men have equal opportunities to succeed in Pakistan and 10.3% believed that women have greater opportunities while 45.7% thought the opposite.

More training and educational programmes have to be established (30.9%) and youth have to be provided financial resources by the government (31.8%) to effectively and efficiently tackle youth employment within the country. Other than that, ensuring youth graduates from schools & universities with the market’s required skillset is significant as well (25.4%).

Full report in Urdu & English can be accessed here.