- Youth unemployment is a serious threat to national security. The problem in securing decent jobs after school may increase the vulnerability of young people to social vices and disorders.
Written By Dr. Eric Akobeng - The youth are Ghana’s greatest asset and driving force of the economy. However majority of the youth who have acquired knowledge and employable skills do not have stable economic opportunities.
Unemployment is a big problem. According to the Ghana Labour Force Survey report published in 2016, the unemployment rate for Ghana is 11.9%. The rate is higher among females than males. The National Youth Policy of Ghana published in 2010 by the Ministry of Youth and Sports defined the youth as “persons who are within the age bracket of 15 and 35”. By this definition, 59.6% of the youth are employed while 12.1% with employable skills are unemployed; the rest are outside the labour force. By 2011, Ghana was one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, with GDP growth estimated at about 15%.The country was elevated to lower middle-income status. Sadly, however, the rapid rate of growth did not benefit the largest share of the Ghanaian population, especially the unemployed. Economic growth is supposed to stimulate employment, but the economy has not created sufficient jobs to absorb the increasing number of youth with employable skills. Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient measurement of human well-being. If unemployment has been increasing, then it will be difficult to call economic growth development, even if growth rates double. A number of graduates coming from the universities, colleges, polytechnics and the senior high schools are not finding jobs. Which sectors in the economy can address the unemployment challenge adequately? The agriculture sector has failed to attract graduates as expected. The mining sector is dominated by foreign partners. Manufacturing is not strong. Oil production is unable to generate large-scale employment.
The consequences of youth unemployment can be severe. Youth unemployment is a serious threat to national security. The problem in securing decent jobs after school may increase the vulnerability of young people to social vices and disorders. This has led to street hawking and the migration of some youth across the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean to Europe in search of greener pastures. Some young people have argued that spending years and energies on the educational ladder is pointless. The implication is that young people will resort to wrong means of acquiring wealth, rather than furthering their education only to continue to depend on their aged parents after graduation. Many believe that looking for a job in Ghana is about who you know and the political party to which one belongs, rather than one's credentials or competence. Unfortunately the role models of the youth are the “sakawa” guys or the corrupt public officials.
There must be a conscious effort to create jobs by coming up with targeted employment and labour-related programmes and policies that will address the unemployment situation at the national, regional and district levels. The first step to dealing with unemployment, is to establish a labour database to provide reliable information on unemployment figures, available vacancies and potential job opportunities. There is the need to complement formal degrees with job-centred skills to resolve the skills-job mismatch. The private sector must be involved in planning the curriculum which must conform to the skills and human resource needs of industry. Entrepreneurship must be taught as a compulsory subject in schools from basic to tertiary level. It is also important to strengthen the Skills Training and Enterprise Programme and the National Youth Employment Programme to ensure that many young people have increased access to the programme. The Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training must be adequately resourced to provide more competency-based technical and vocational training to the youth. Efforts must be made to create conducive environment to enable businesses and entrepreneurs to grow, make profit and employ more people.
NEWS COMMENTARY ON GHANA’S GROWTH AND THE MISSING JOBS.
BY: DR ERIC AKOBENG, AN ECONOMIST.