Some economists recently downplayed the nine per cent year-on-year Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth recorded in the second quarter of 2017 with the simple reason that it did not give a true reflection of the performance of the economy during the period under review.
They described the growth as “unproductive” because it was largely driven by oil and, therefore, is exclusive of the performance of the real sectors.
The provisional 2017 second quarter real GDP grew by nine per cent year-on-year compared to 1.1 per cent recorded in quarter two of 2016.
But beyond the performance, they also spoke about the fact that the GDP’s performance did not translate into the creation of jobs.
This issue of job creation has been of major concern to us because of its contribution to nation development apart from the fact that enough jobs are not being created for the teeming number of graduates who come out of the universities every year.
The core mandate given to the government by the people is to grow the economy and create jobs. And that, at the very least, is the essence of the economic transformation agenda promised by the government.
Historically, even though the economy has experienced consistent growth in the gross domestic product, that has never translated into massive job creation. And that is what has always been missing in the narrative — the fact that our economic policies have failed to deliver jobs.
As a developing country, we have the capacity to expand job creation much faster than the developed, mature economies. Our whole strategy of economic planning should be geared towards job-creation. Job creation should be at the core of Ghana’s economic planning strategy amid the current high level of unemployment.
Unfortunately, for many years in our country, job creation has rather become an outcome of the economic planning strategy and the managers of the economy have not put job creation at the very centre of our economic growth strategy. That is why we should not be surprised that our graduates finish school and have to sit at home for a while.
It is instructive to note that even in periods when our economy has performed very well, the growth has not led to the creation of jobs. For instance, the economy recorded 13.6 per cent growth in 2011 and was adjudged one of the fastest growing in the world but there was little to show in terms of job creation and a reduction in unemployment levels.
Even though the economy has achieved some level of success, the unemployment situation has been compounding year after year as the country’s universities, according to official figures, turn out 60,000 graduates annually without enough job vacancies to fill. Overall, an estimated 250,000 youth join the labour market each year to hunt for jobs.
As a nation, we cannot wish for job creation; it must not be an outcome. Our human capital development must be channelled and directed towards economic growth.
We believe the government should send a strong signal to its commitment to job creation and this year’s budget must underscore that commitment.