Tackling unemployment puzzle

BY: Kobby Asmah

Joblessness among the youth and its attendant desperation has become a worrying threat that must be tackled quickly in the country.

Despite government’s effort, the creation of sufficient jobs to meet the huge demand is proving elusive.

Youth unemployment in the country is getting scarier each passing day. It has become a time bomb waiting to explode with disastrous far-reaching consequences.

At the moment, anybody who has ears on the ground will not doubt that there is glaring frustration among the youth seeking jobs and we must do everything possible to avoid social upheavals for which any failure could undermine our safety, security, fuel crime and slow down progress.

Youth engagement

Last Friday, the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, met some tertiary students, graduates and youth groups and institutions to brainstorm on issues including the government’s proposal to create a million jobs, stimulate innovation and start-ups as well as other opportunities under the country’s COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprise Support (CARES) Obaatanpa Programme.

The minister’s engagement with the youth at the Springboard-Ghana-CARES Youth Dialogue in Accra had the key objective to create awareness of the new opportunities being created for the youth, get their feedback on the proposals and highlight how they can take advantage of them.

The Obaatanpa Programme is a GH¢100-billion post-COVID-19 programme to stabilise, revitalise and transform the country’s economy to create jobs and prosperity for Ghanaians over a three-year period.

Great move

It is exciting our Finance Minister is embarking on this laudable initiative to engage our youth. The youth are our future and we need to actively and regularly engage them in policy formulation.

That is why the minister’s move is in the right direction and must be emulated by other sector ministers to overcome the unemployment puzzle facing the country.

There are many young people who want opportunities but do not know how and where to start from. That is why the minister’s initiative to build an entrepreneurial state through the launch of
YouBanc next month to support the youth to create new businesses or expand existing small and medium enterprises must be a welcome one.

Job-creation agenda

The minister, himself, describes this as a “significant milestone” in the race to create one million jobs.

Ghana, like many other African countries, needs to create thousands of jobs in the next few years to satisfy the teeming youth coming out of the various universities and other training institutions.

Unfortunately, the private sector, which is expected to spearhead the job-creation agenda, has so far not delivered to satisfaction despite the huge support via several well-meaning policies and programmes.

Missing link

While industrialisation is key in the drive for the production of goods and delivery of services and eventually the creation of jobs, there is the missing link of getting people with the requisite skills to meet the demand of industry.

This is because, over the years the educational set-up has given less attention to technical and vocational education and training (TVET), which had been a key turning point for many economies across the world.

TVET helps to improve skills, attitudes and employability. Why we have not taken advantage of this is most worrying.

Industry-academia divide

The industry-academia divide is huge. Academia is not producing what industry requires, leading to a vicious circle in which industry is also unable to utilise the graduates with higher education.

It is very unfortunate there is a lack of proper linkage between academia and industry which has not been able to put into effective use the many research outcomes gathering dust on the shelves.

Deep re-look

It is time to take another look at the educational system to ensure that students are trained and given practical orientation to use their hands and be able to create jobs for themselves. TVET should be given a boost with support given to industry and private sector providers to provide hands-on and soft-skills training to the youth in the formal and informal sectors.

National policy

Ghana should benchmark against countries such as Japan, South Korea and Germany, whose economies have been built on the bedrock of TVET trainees and hands-on small and medium-scale enterprises.

Governments must also increase financial and technical support for the youth who are willing to venture into agriculture and allied businesses to grow the economy.

Once the youth obtain fulfilment in their jobs and livelihoods, the economy will grow, leading to sustained prosperity for all.

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