Wed, Sep

Ghana's Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has said the government will employ some one hundred thousand unemployed graduates under the Nation Builders Corps programme.

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On 1st May, Government says it will launch 100,000 jobs to be created under the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) initiatives. It is an attempt to reduce the pressure building up from unemployed youths.

NABCO will see between 300-450 unemployed graduates from each district employed in 1 of 7 modules of work, paying them between GhS 400-500.

The modules:

●Feed Ghana = Agric extension officers
●Educate Ghana = Teaching Maths and Science in SHS
●Revenue Ghana = Tax collectors
●Heal Ghana = nurses
●Enterprise Ghana = apprenticeship
●Digitise Ghana = Data Entry
●Governance Ghana = local authority

I believe the initiative has good intentions, but I also believe the policy could have benefited from a dose or two of creativity, for a number of reasons.

1. It is unclear the criteria to be used to determine which graduate goes under what module - who is the winner if and if not structured well - the unemployed graduates, institutions they work for or the politics of re-election;

2. There is something that troubles me. On the one hand, I gather this will be temporary for about 3 years within which period the graduates will find more permanent work (equally within that period, the scheme would have served for election publicity). But we know almost the same amount of graduates are produced annually and only 10% of them get permanent jobs in the first 1-3 years, so, this scheme isn't temporary - it will be here for a while longer, because as we speak the pipeline of unemployed graduates is building up. But MORE importantly I ask - IF 5 out of the 7 NABCO modules will be moulding graduates into Tax Collectors, data Entry clerks, etc. - how does any of these develop skills relevant enough to improve their marketability to permanent, commercial and private or public sector vacancies?

(3) If the intention is to have graduates go through the scheme for 3 years, within which time they can find more permanent jobs - what INCENTIVE has been structured in the scheme to get graduates to be motivated enough to actively seek for work? Otherwise, won't they just sit in the role until the 3 years are done - "half a loaf is better than none?"

(4) Science and mathematics are very fundamental knowledge building blocks and I have often wondered whether we have done well with the infrastructure to teach them or whether we have done well with their evolving content. But to now have graduates simply teach math and science because they need to be employed bothers me. We may all have studied math or science, be it at secondary or tertiary levels but TEACHING is a science in itself altogether and I worry we are diluting the absorption rates of these subjects being taught simply because there are regular unemployed graduates available. That's a conscious lowering of the quality of education delivery.

(5) How about unemployed non-graduates? Is there a scheme to take care of employing them too? Just curious.


(A) Quite simple. IF the government is already committed to solving unemployment and IF it is committed to paying salaries under NABCO (I hear 3 years) or whatever - then why don't government arrange to have as many graduates take on mentorship/ apprenticeship in private (and public companies), BUT in roles that are in line with their original career choices (or simply in roles that are generally considered career paths) - this way, the graduates will be growing their careers, the organisations they are seconded to will benefit from spare capacity which can be employed to increase their productivity without them spending on the extra labor cost and at the end of 3 years, these graduates will have a greater chance of marketing tangible and relevant skills to employers, increasing their chances of filling vacancies.

(B) To enhance the quality of #A above, the government could carry out a Skill Shortage Audit, to determine what sectors of Ghana skill shortages and what exact skills there are. This has never been done before, sadly we keep producing overflows and underflows of graduates and professionals in different sectors. The exercise would - (1) help schools redirect their graduate production focus thus improving graduate employability and relevance to industry on graduation and (2) help identify what sectors could benefit more, from unemployed graduate apprenticeship placements such as the one to be launched on May 1st.

Unemployment is a long term wahala with short term surges from time to time. What government is attempting to do, is to solve the short term surge, without focusing on the long-term recurrence of such surges.


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