Advisor to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Muhammad Ayub Afridi has said that the government is extending all support to the initiatives being taken through joint ventures for the capacity building of returning migrants so that they could start sustainable and dignified self-employment in the country. He expressed these remarks while addressing a ceremony held by the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) for capacity building and to provide the returning migrants with trade-specific toolkits as an in-kind support to help them start sustained self-employment.
He appreciated the program initiated by the OPF in Pakistan saying it would play an important role in guiding as well as capacity building of those migrants returning to Pakistan for economic reintegration. The advisor mentioned that the incumbent government is passionate to create opportunities for overseas to work in their homeland. He also said that the Pak-German cooperation has strengthened over the years. He encouraged youth who imparted trainings under this initiative to further impart trainings of these skills to other people in their areas.
OPF in collaboration with the Pakistan–German Facilitation & Reintegration Centre (PGFRC) has provided comprehensive trainings to the 82 returning migrants in the fields of culinary arts, motorcycle mechanic and photography. About 18 skilled returnees were identified in the trades of electrician, plumber, carpenter, and masson, they were provided the business development training and provided the respective toolkits in the ceremony.
Marion Pfennigs, Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of Germany, was also present at the occasion while Managing Director OPF, Dr. Amer Sheikh, Tobias Becker, Country Director, GIZ, lawmakers & HRD, members, OPF Board of Governors, senior government officials, representatives of international organizations and civil society also attended the ceremony. Country Director GIZ, Tobias Becker, said that PGFRC is playing a critical role in fostering self-employment and entrepreneurship. These efforts are resulting in enhancing the capacity of workforce and reducing unemployment rates in Pakistan.
He said this initiative helps not only to contribute to ensuring better life of returning migrants but also achieving the Agenda 2030 as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. OPF is collaborating with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on an economic reintegration programme for returnees. It is part of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development-commissioned “Returning to New Opportunities” programme (BMZ).
On the occasion, the returning migrants were thrilled after receiving the toolkits. They shared that they never thought there is an institution enabling returning migrants make a new start in Pakistan. OPF in partnership with GIZ, established the PGFRC in Lahore. The program also has an advisory desk in OPF head office Islamabad. PGFRC is supporting returning migrants and local population to find better opportunities for better living conditions and sustainable source of income to support themselves and their families.
In her remarks, Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of Germany, said she is delighted that today 82 returning migrants have got training in their fields. It is important to mention here that more than 800 returning migrants will benefit from this capacity building leading to in-kind support intervention. She further said that PGFRC has made a substantial effort and achieved a significant goal. However, sustainable development cannot be realised unless the respective government is proactive in its involvement.
She mentioned that German government will continue to encourage more proactive approach to this critical part of reintegration. Addressing on the audience, Head of PGFRC Dr. Mansoor Zaib Khan underlined that PGFRC is open to all Pakistanis who can avail our all services free of charge. He said PGFRC is providing advice on training and skills development, technical and vocational training, advice on job market trends and opportunities, entrepreneurship and start-up support, and information on the health system in Pakistan, advice on getting microfinance and loans.
Addressing the audience, Dr. Amer Sheikh, Managing Director, OPF, said that annually, a large number of people return to Pakistan and need support in getting employment opportunities. OPF facilitates people in different ways including getting jobs, micro loans, skills trainings and link them with different organizations through a comprehensive database. He also said that GIZ has provided 3.1 million euros to carry out this project for skills training and in-kind support facility. The OPF MD informed that during this period, many male and female entrepreneurs got skill trainings and successfully launched their businesses.