Ghana’s unemployment figures have reached an alarming rate. Although official data on unemployment are hard to find, figures from development partners and other research institutions show that almost half of the country’s youth are jobless, with majority of the employed also dissatisfied with their wages.
A recent survey by the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSEER) showed that, of the thousands of graduates leaving universities each year, only 10 per cent of them find jobs in their first year of completion. The bulk of the graduates (90 per cent), join the swelling unemployed to search for virtually non-existing jobs.
Another survey by the World Bank in May last year, showed that about 48 per cent of persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years did not have jobs.
In addition to the alarming rate, the bank estimated that persons within that age bracket would soon peak, raising concerns about the need to find concrete and lasting solutions to the unemployment canker.
While many attempts have been made in the past to fix the problem, not much has been achieved.
This explains why recent announcements by the government and other state institutions to help create thousands of jobs for the masses are commendable.
Among them are the Nation Builders’ Corps (100,000 jobs), the Planting for Food and Jobs (750,000) and the National Entrepreneurship Innovation Plan (NEIP), which aims to support young entrepreneurs with soft credit to start and/or expand their businesses.
What, however, remains to be seen is the translation of these plans into actions to help absorb the teeming youth.
As the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said at a recent forum, the unemployment situation in the country has become a national security threat and the earlier we deal with it, the better for the nation.
Beyond threatening public peace, a bulgy unemployment rate undermines economic growth as majority of these people will be unable to contribute their quota to national development.
In addition to announcing special programmes aimed at creating jobs, the GRAPHIC BUSINESS is of the belief that the unemployment situation will be best addressed when the government creates the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive through retooling, expansion and increased investments in existing and new businesses.
There is no denying the fact that the business environment is too stiff for entrepreneurs, especially, those in manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
Thus, any attempts to stimulate job creation in the private sector should aim at easing interest rates, reducing taxes on key sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing while finding a better way to revamp ailing businesses in the salt, shea, cashew and coffee value chain.
Given the labour intensive nature of these activities, any successful attempt at revamping them will not only lead to the creation of many more jobs but will reduce the country’s over dependence on imports to the betterment of the cedi.
While we look forward to the proper realisation of these job creation initiatives announced in the budget and by other state institutions, it is worthy to note that public sector jobs are barely sustainable.
With the wage bill for 2018 estimated at GH¢16.8 billion, equivalent to 42 per cent of that year’s tax revenue, the state’s ability to pay for public sector workers is being called to question, hence the need to migrate a chuck of the workers to the private sector.
This is why we believe that any initiative to create more jobs should be private sector, rather than state-led.