The world is sitting on a time bomb, as its youth continue to grapple with the issue of unemployment. The situation has become worse with the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Many youth have lost their jobs and have no one to look up to due to the enormous economic effect the virus has brought on businesses and national economies. In developing economies, high unemployment levels have become a national security issue, threatening the very existence of those nations.
Young people have become targets of extremist organisations which prey on their vulnerability and recruit them to engage in violent activities.
Many countries, including Ghana, have introduced measures to try to solve youth unemployment challenges, but they are not producing the expected results.
In Ghana, the Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Cost of Adjustment (PAMSCAD), the National Youth Employment Programme, the Cocoa Mass Spraying, the Presidential Pitch and the Planting for Food and Jobs have, over the years, been introduced to address the challenge.
According to the United Nations (UN), young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) grew from 259 million in 2016 to 267 million in 2019, and the number is expected to hit 273 million in 2021. In all, around 400 million people aged between 15 and 24 are missing out on employment opportunities.
It was for this reason that the UN set July 15 as the World Youth Skills Day to draw attention to the opportunities and challenges facing young people’s employment. The theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Skills for a resilient youth”.
One of the main focus areas for the World Youth Skills Day is to highlight the importance of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) as a way of helping meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 — “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.”
Due to the restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19, many countries did not commemorate the day. Others do not have any idea of such a day and failed to give prominence to it by way of taking stock of what to do to address youth unemployment.
What is worrying is that in most African countries, including Ghana, leaders are overwhelmed by these challenges. All they know are the political talks, while failing to put pragmatic measures in place to address the challenges.
The Mirror is concerned that to date there is no specific data in the public space on the number of youth within the technical sector or those with technical skills who have been affected, and what the government is doing to help them.
We do not know how the Ghanaian youth, especially those with technical skills, will be equipped to be able to fit into the new terrain or job market when this whole COVID-19 issue is over.
It is not enough for state agencies and politicians to continue to promise what they will do to address youth unemployment; rather, they should put pragmatic measures in place that will address, to some extent, youth unemployment.
The National Youth Employment Agency, the National Vocational Training institutes and tertiary institutions, for instance, must work diligently to equip the Ghanaian youth with the relevant skills that are readily needed on the job market.
On their own, the youth must also take up the challenge and come up with innovative ideas that will create jobs for others to be able to reduce unemployment levels in the country.
The Mirror believes that it is not over yet until we give up on the fight against youth unemployment.