Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced the formation of National Accelerator on Closing the Skills Gap in Pakistan, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, with Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) serving as its national secretariat. The announcement was made during a meeting held between PM and World Economic Forum President Broge Brende at the PM Office.
The National Skills Development Accelerator will be directed by a team of Co-Chairs from both the public and private sectors. The government will be represented by Federal Minister of Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development Zulfiqar Bukhari. The Co-Chairs from the private sector will include Unilever Pakistan Managing Director Shazia Syed and Habib Bank Limited President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mohammad Aurangzeb.
The prime minister acquainted the visiting dignitary about the government’s reform agenda, with special focus on environment protection and economic sector. He said the government was emphasising on strategic sectors which will facilitate economic progression, including academia, policymakers and technical experts from the education and skills development.
The premier shared his government’s political and financial commitment to transform the skills development sectors in Pakistan and expressed his gratitude towards World Economic Forum for selecting Pakistan as a founding member of the “National Accelerator” initiative. He said WEF’s engagement will provide new prospects to Pakistan’s youth and will help in developing new skills, along with embracing the effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He said Pakistan wanted a “peaceful neighbourhood” and had a vision of peace, progress and prosperity, in relation to regional issues.
WEF President Borge Brende said, “the launch of the National Accelerator on closing the Skills Gap is an important milestone in our relationship with Pakistan and it is just the start.” He said several national priorities of the country were also the core or central focuses of WEF. Education, skill development, connectivity for regional cooperation and industrialisation, were different arenas that WEF was already working for and hence was ready to support Pakistan in its endeavours, he added.
Borge Brende lauded the prime minister for his vision and the government’s initiative for protecting the environment, stating that it was a key priority area for the first time in the history of Pakistan. He also applauded PM’s vision for regional peace and positive engagement at the international level. Borge Brende also extended an invitation to the prime minister to attend the 50th anniversary of World Economic Forum, which would be held in Davos in January 2020.
Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood, Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Khan, Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood were also present during the meeting.
The WEF president was accompanied by South Asia Lead World Economic Forum Andrew Ghazalia, Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) CEO Jawad Khan, Unilever Pakistan MD Ms Shazia Syed and President & CEO Habib Bank Ltd Mohammad Aurangzeb.