President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the National Youth Employment policy, a 10-year framework from which further development in the youth space will be implemented.
It is the principal reference document for state institutions, the private sector and foreign partners in their efforts to effect development for young people.
The President referred to the policy as a statement of the “government’s understanding that the solutions to the myriad of challenges the youth face are not going to remain for the youth but in collaboration with the youth”.
World Youth Day
The launch of the policy coincided with International Youth Day, an awareness day designed by the UN to celebrate the energies, power and contribution of young people across the world in creating sustainable impact.
The day is commemorated on August 12, every year to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrate the potential of the youth as partners in today's global society.
It was on the theme: “Benefits for youth involves you. Together for a prosperous future”.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the national youth policy was an example of inter-generational solidarity in response to the admonition by a former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who argued that “when we get young people decent jobs, political weight, negotiating muscle and real influence in our world, it will create a brighter future”.
Youngest continent, time bomb
The President said 40 per cent of Africa's working population was between the ages of 15 and 24, making it the youngest continent in the world, a situation which represented a staggering amount of human capital.
That, he said, was set to double by 2045, and quoted a World Bank report which said the youth accounted for 60 per cent of all unemployed Africans, with very few getting paid a good wage, developing their skills or provided a measure of job security.
He noted that the mass unemployment in Africa, especially among the youth, was a ticking time bomb, and that the so-called Arab Spring showed clearly that the lack of employment opportunities undermined social cohesion and political stability.
He said with between 10 and 12 million youth joining the labour market every year, Africa had to pay maximum attention to job creation.
He referred to a report by a Nigerian journalist, who had access to Boko Haram in that country, which noted that although the sect was driven by ideology, pervasive unemployment in northern Nigeria made easy the recruitment of jobless young people.
He indicated that a World Bank survey showed that 40 per cent of those who joined rebel movements said they were motivated by a lack of jobs and said young people were willing to risk everything to improve their circumstances.
He said it was for that reason that in recent times a lot of them had taken huge risks on the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, trying to reach a better life in Europe.
President Akufo-Addo noted that it was for that reason that since he assumed office in 2017, his administration had placed importance on guaranteeing access to a minimum of senior high school education for all Ghanaian children by the free senior high school policy.
He said it was also laying emphasis on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a major pillar for development.
In line with that, TVET workshops across the country were being upgraded and retooled, including 34 national vocational training institutes, 13 technical institutes and 10 technical universities.
He said among the earliest of the government's interventions was the reintroduction of nurses and teachers training allowances and the recent introduction of the no-guarantor policy that allowed tertiary students to access students loan with just their Ghana cards.
“These are some of the tangible steps the government has taken to ensure the Ghanaian professional of tomorrow is considered among the very best anywhere in the world in their field of work,” he added.
The President announced that the YouStart initiative, which is a central feature of the current budget, is prime for a national roll out shortly and it would create some one million young entrepreneurs over the next three years.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mustapha Ussif, said there was no better period for cohesion of different generations of the world than now because it was in the collective interest of all for such solidarity to prevail at all levels and commended the elderly who had placed their experience and knowledge at the disposal of the youth.
He urged the youth to take advantage and tap from the elderly who had been interacting with them to position themselves to contribute greatly to the development of the country.
“Our greatest resource is not in gold, diamond, cocoa, timber or oil but the energetic and determined youth of our great country,” Mr Ussif said.