April 16, 2024
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The piling unemployment figures in Ghana

The unemployment rate in Ghana according to a Bloomberg report has almost tripled in little more than a decade, according to the country’s latest census. More than 1.55 million people, or 13.4% of the west African country’s economically active population, are out of work, according to the 2021 population and housing census as reported by the Ghana Statistical Service on its website.

The report stated that Ghana, which doesn’t produce regular data on unemployment, recorded a jobless rate of 5.3% in the last census, in 2010. Research information website Statistica estimated the proportion of people out of work at 4.5%, the African News Agency said as recently as July.

If the minimum age of 15 years is applied, the proportion of people without work is 7.8%, the statistical service said. The proportion of economically active males 15 years and older was 63.5%, compared with 53% for females, according to the report.

Now, the problem of youth unemployment facing over 1.2 million young people in Ghana is a result of government and private sector players’ failure to control the abundant resources and energies of the youth’s productive ventures.

Many of Ghana’s youth engage in unproductive and life-threatening activities such as Arm robbery, Drug abuse, Gambling, Petty thievery, Prostitution, Gangsterism, Fraud and Political unrest.

Some labour relations watchers think that the massive unemployment problem confronting the African youth demands a holistic and nationalistic will in the education sector, coupled with the implementation of relevant youth programs and projects aimed at creating more jobs for young people within the employment brackets, this will also empower them sufficiently to boost sustainable development in the sub-region.

Around 12.7 percent of the African youth were unemployed in 2022. From 2012 onwards, the youth unemployment rate in Africa fluctuated. It peaked at 12.9 percent in 2021.

Africa has the world’s youngest population, with a median age of 19.7 years. Such a large youthful population might ordinarily symbolize an ample and energetic workforce, a boon for the development prospects of any region. But the dire employment situation for young people across Africa continues to snuff out their potential. According to the African Development Bank, in 2015, one-third of Africa’s then 420 million young people between 15 and 35 years old were unemployed, another third were vulnerably employed, and only 1 in 6 was in wage employment.

The African Development Bank reports that while 10 million to 12 million youth enter the workforce in Africa each year, only 3 million formal jobs are created annually. African youth have no choice but to work because most countries on the continent have little or no social protection. According to the African Development Bank, it is therefore common to see humanities and social sciences graduates driving taxis in Algiers and Cameroonian engineers ferrying passengers on commercial motorcycles in Douala.

In Ghana, the youth unemployment rate is often considered as the share of the labour force ages 15-24 without work but available for and seeking employment. Ghana’s youth unemployment rate for 2021 was 9.59%, a 0.1% increase from 2020.

To begin with, the educational curriculum in Ghana needs a complete overhaul, its current state does not play any significant role in our youth unemployment drive for young graduates, the system focuses more on theory lessons rather than impacting relevant practical and professional skills needed in the job market.

This concentration makes it difficult to expand the job market since many graduates can only depend on white-collar jobs and the government. The curriculum lacks the requisite vocational support and training power to make the youth more job creators rather than job seekers. The curriculum put much emphasis on academic and bookish knowledge while turning blind eye to practical training for entrepreneur benefits and it is from such negligence that many youths have no clue on possible areas of employment.

Also, the white-collar job mentality is another major cause of youth unemployment in Ghana. Graduates are made to believe seeking formal employment in a well-reputed establishment is what is needed to be successful in life and this makes them desperate in competing for the few vacancy slots the companies have to offer.

In addition, Leaders and Governments are to be blamed for the unending rise in unemployment among the youth, most governments fail to put in place the right policies that can propel lasting Jobs opportunities for the people. They engage in populists’ propaganda and sloganeering all in the name of developmental policies based on the interest of the citizens.

Persons on retirement don’t want to leave their position to give way for fresh blood to be employed. Most governments have also occupied the various public sector institutions with unqualified and incompetent political party supports and foot-soldiers, most of whom have no impact on those institutions and the nation.

In as much as the population is increasing there should be available Jobs for the youth to partake in. The government must be able to set up start-up support programs or capital to attract young skilled school leavers into setting up small enterprises that will grow gradually.

Unemployment among youth mostly leads to political instability and tension in a country simply because they are desperate for jobs some may tend to demonstrate in several ways and even organize strikes on regular basis demanding opportunities due them which could generate political unrest and social problems.

As a result of youth unemployment, the people engage in social vices like arm robbery, prostitution and fraud to earn a living for themselves. They look for money through whichever means possible and hence crime rate will consequently increase which makes the country chaotic and jeopardize social security.

To conclude, the government ought to come out with policies and incentives that will attract the youth and also try to create more job opportunities for them. And the following recommendations aim at solving the problem of youth unemployment

First, there is a need to make the youth employable by bridging the gap between theory and practice and this lies on academic institutions to design and structure their course content to fit a local need in a national context. It is only by this that graduates can acquire and use requisite skills to serve society through innovation and self-creation of opportunities.

Academic institutions should also place more emphasis on practical training especially with industrial attachment work to provide them with work experience before the completion of their academic program. In addition, course structure should be reviewed regularly in line with the demand of industry and the country’s development goals, there is a need for proactive interventions that seek to create more job opportunities for the youth.

Again, the student should be re-oriented to see all jobs as important to strive and make the best out of it and the white colour mentality should be scrapped. An initiative should be launched to encourage youth to borrow government loans for their small business and those on retirement should leave and give space to employ more people could help curb the unemployment rate among the youth.

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By: Hamdiyat Mutaawakil (University For Development Studies)

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