The 73rd New Year School and conference has been launched with the focus on prioritising participation of young people in the event.
The conference being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the University of Ghana in January next year will focus on “Covid-19 and Socio-economic dynamics in Ghana”.
The event will feature a youth school, which will provide the platform for young people to deliberate on issues that concern them in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policy in Singapore, Mr Tharman Shanmugarathnam, who is also an international speaker, is the keynote speaker.
Launching the event, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, asked Ghanaians to continue making the needed sacrifices to support the government's entrepreneurship agenda to deal with the youth unemployment situation in the country.
The country, he noted, needed to put in efforts to remove the indignity of unemployment and support the prosperity of over 10 million youth who had acquired knowledge in various fields but not having jobs.
In Ghana, he said, COVID-19 had had a devastating impact on households, businesses, and the local economy, resulting in significant job losses that had affected the livelihoods of many.
In spite of the challenge, Mr Ofori-Atta said, the government had put in several interventions, including the Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) Obaatan Pa programme, to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on many households and businesses and accelerate Ghana's economic rebound.
The implementation of the Ghana CARES Obaatan Pa programme, he indicated, was revitalising enterprises and improving the business climate, supporting the private sector and providing job opportunities for the youth.
He, however, observed that the gap in training more people in digitalisation and the low interest of people to become entrepreneurs were compounding the unemployment situation.
Mr Ofori-Atta said unemployment could be solved with focus on entrepreneurship and people taking advantage of the digitalisation space.
The finance minister said there were several opportunities in digitalisation that the youth were not taking advantage of.
"As we look ahead into 2022, we are faced with a very difficult challenges. Our population has grown from 6.7 million in 1960 to 30.8 million with increasing youthful population.
“Now Ghana has 11 million people between the ages of 15-35 years, and we must do something about their future," he said.
He said the government was creating the necessary environment for people to take interest in the digital space.
He said even though the jobs were in the area of digitalisation, only about 1,000 graduates of information technology related skills were produced every year from the tertiary institutions.
“What has put our universities to sleep without realising this major shift in where the world is going?” Mr Ofori-Atta quizzed.
Local employers were already in shortage of talents for their job needs as they were not getting the graduates with the skills they required and, therefore, unable to fill certain positions in spite of the unemployment situation, the finance minister said.
"So additionally, our 6.6 million youth would have to enter the workforce by 2024, and what are we going to do to them in a private sector that is not large to accommodate them and a government that cannot take anymore graduates?”
Mr Ofori-Atta stressed the need for people to think about creating jobs and not waiting to be employed by the state.