Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has accorded a formal approval to Restriction of Employment of Children Ordinance 2016 declaring labour by children under the age of 14 as heinous crime in every sector of the province.

The ordinance will be promulgated soon after the governor signs the documents in a few days, an official said.

A steering committee under the chairmanship of Labour & Human Resource Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar with the chief secretary as the co-chairperson had also been set up to eliminate child labour from auto workshops, hotels, restaurants and filling stations, he said.

Meanwhile, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed here on Thursday for skill training of children involved in child labour.

Raja Sarwar was the chief guest while Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC) Chairman Faisal Ijaz Khan, Labour Secretary Nawazish Ali, Manager Research & Development PVTC Shafqatur Rehman Chaudhry, Project Director Dr Saeed Wattoo and representatives of Bureau of Statistics, the Urban Unit attended the ceremony.

Under the MoU, the PVTC will train 69,000 children between the age of 14 and 18 years, in various skills. The children have already been identified in a child labour survey conducted by BoS in 10 districts of the province.

The six-month skill training commencing from August will be imparted in three phases.

Raja Sarwar hoped that the training would play a pivotal role in elimination of child labour and hence poverty as children trained through this programme would be able to earn their living with accredited degree.

Representatives of BoS said the body had moved forward to next 13 districts for collection of authentic data of the children involved in labour at auto workshops, hotels, restaurants and filling stations.

The minister said a vigorous crackdown on those responsible for child labour in these sectors would be conducted soon after Eidul Fitr.