Youth bulge critical issue of concern

BY: Esther Lamiokor Mills

Ghana has a youth bulge.

At least, this is a key finding in the report on the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC).

On Wednesday, October 27, 2021, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) presented its report on the 2021 PHC to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and in his brief, the Government Statistician, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, said the country had a youth bulge.

A youth bulge is the demographic pattern where a large share of the population is made up of children and young adults.

“Yes, we have the numbers, but what are the qualities of the youth that we have in terms of education, health and so on, so that they can take advantage of the returns of the demographic dividend?” he had asked.

Prof. Annim, therefore, called for an inter-sectoral committee that would look at the quality of the youth that the country possessed.

The youth bulge of Ghana has implications for the present and future development prospects of the country.

Indeed, the more than 16,000 youth who applied for recruitment into the Ghana Immigration Services (GIS) recently, and similar numbers who applied for recruitment into the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) at the same time cannot be left to their own devices.

It is evident that the huge number of youth who applied could not all be taken to fill the 2,000 or less vacant positions to be filled.

The question for all of us, including the government and policy makers, against the backdrop of information from the 2021 PHC report of a youth bulge, is: What are the prospects for training/education, job opportunities, health and social well-being for them and other youth?

Must the youth be left to their own devices?

The quality of Ghana’s youth bulge is a most critical issue for intervention.

Yes, there have been policies such as Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) and the One District, One Factory (1D1F), but these certainly cannot be enough for employment opportunities for the teeming youth all around us.

An uneducated youth with no access to employment, health and other social amenities is a ticking time bomb in relation to the country’s own security and development.

If we close our eyes to this youth bulge, it will certainly result in insecurity for all in the near future.

This must make all of us, particularly the government, sit up with interventions on the issue.

Today’s adults in policy and decision-making roles in Ghana will soon reach their pension and would need to rely on their children and grandchildren, who form the youth bulge now.

The right decisions and policy interventions made today will benefit today’s adults when they are on pension if the country has a healthy and entrepreneurial youth who contribute effectively to the development of Ghana.

Disregarding the youth bulge and not committing to policy interventions for a quality youth will spell the doom of all today’s adults.

As Prof. Annim said, the future threats are that the aged population will continue to depend on the youth.

If no commitments are made to do that, it will mean a population that is worse off, for Ghana.

For the successful conduct of the 2020 PHC, we at the Daily Graphic commend the GSS and congratulate the service on its good work.

We side with its call for investment in the quality of the youth, from the educational and health perspective, as well as employment opportunities.

We also commend the GSS for the public services integrity surveys it plans to embark on.

That survey, we believe, will help with interventions on youth participation in public institutions through their direct employment or access to public goods and services.

We of the Daily Graphic will be on the look out to document the commitment of the government to ensure a quality youth bulge and also further sterling efforts by the GSS, such as the public services integrity survey.