2022 Budget tomorrow: Youth demand jobs, start-up capital

BY: Richard Agodzo
Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister — Has task of stabilising the economy and providing jobs
Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister — Has task of stabilising the economy and providing jobs

Scores of unemployed youth will look to the 2022 Budget presentation tomorrow with cautious optimism for a solution to a national canker that previous budgets have failed to -tackle head-on.

After years of failed attempts to secure jobs in both the public and private sectors, some victims of the scrunching unemployment menace told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in separate interactions that they will hope for temporary and permanent fixes that could put their talents and expertise into use in return for income for their well-beings.

They mentioned the security services as well as the agricultural sector and the service sectors as some of the areas that should be deliberately stimulated with the right policies to help unleash their full potential to grow and create jobs.

While some of the affected persons insisted that they were capable of starting and running their own businesses rather than waiting to be employed, they said the capital to start the enterprises was also unavailable, given that they had not been able to engage in any meaningful economic activities right after national service to save funds.

Some of the people who spoke to the paper said they had been searching for jobs for an average of six years.

They, therefore, appealed to the government to introduce what they described as pragmatic policies that would lead to strong job creations as well as offer grants and soft credits to people with bright ideas to start businesses that could be supported to grow and employ others.

The Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, had earlier said that the public sector payroll was full and thus appealed to job seekers to be innovative and enterprising rather than looking to be employed by the government.

Joblessness

Although data on unemployment is not readily available, the World Bank Group said in a report that more than 12 per cent of the youth were unemployed and more than four times of that number were underemployed.

It added that while an average of 110,000 of youth graduated from universities and other tertiary institutions every year, the low economic output, especially in the non-oil and mineral extractive sectors, meant majority of them would be jobless, creating a jobless crisis that government officials had variously referred to as becoming a national security issue.

A Ghana Statistical Service survey in September this year found that graduates spent an average of five years job-hunting.

Prioritise agric

Thus, as the Minister of Finance puts final touches to the presentation, it is obvious that measures to address the bulgy unemployment situation will feature significantly, but how credible and sustainable they will be in cutting the joblessness will be the challenge.

The President of the Unemployed Graduate Association of Ghana (UGAG), Mr. Desmond Bress-Biney, said the government needed to prioritise agriculture to create employment in Ghana.

He said the agriculture sector could create several employment channels if the government made it lucrative and attractive for the youth, especially unemployed graduates.

“The government should focus on making agriculture a priority, because that is the only way we can create thousands of jobs for the teeming youth,” Mr. Bress-Biney said.

He explained further that many industries in Ghana depended on the agriculture sector for raw materials, making the agricultural sector the backbone of the industrial market.

“The industries cannot operate alone and effectively when the agricultural sector is not able to provide them with the raw materials they need. Agriculture is the engine and growth of Ghana’s economy,” he added.