RAPHAEL RICHSTISON TETTEH WRITES: FINDING AN ANTIDOTE FOR GHANA’S YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
Youth unemployment is one of the greatest challenges any country could be faced with. This challenge if not properly dealt with can cause great havoc to the development of a country and become a great burden on the government of the country. The youth of a country is its greatest backbone when it comes to the country’s development. A hungry youth is a hungry nation and a hungry man is an angry man.
According to research, many observers consider youth unemployment as the major reason behind the recent popular uprisings in a number of Arab countries. Increasing unemployment over the past two decades has colossally led to frustration among young people, most especially among university graduates. Frustration among unemployed youth spilled out into the streets at the beginning of 2011, leading to rebellion against the existing political regimes in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. Civil disorder and strikes exacerbated the situation and reduced prospects for a rapid economic recovery.
The Arab Spring began in December 2010 when Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest the arbitrary seizing of his vegetable stand by police over failure to procure a permit.
Bouazizi’s sacrificial act served as a catalyst for the so-called Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia. The street protests that ensued in Tunis, the country’s capital, eventually prompted authoritarian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to abdicate his position and flee to Saudi Arabia. He had ruled the country with an iron fist for more than 20 years.
Activists in other countries in the region were inspired by the regime change in Tunisia (the country’s first democratic parliamentary elections were held in October 2011) and began to protest similar authoritarian governments in their own nations.
The participants in these grassroots movements sought increased social freedoms and greater participation in the political process. Notably, this includes the Tahrir Square uprisings in Cairo, Egypt, and similar protests in Bahrain. However, in some cases, these protests morphed into full-scale civil wars, as evidenced in countries such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen.
The radical protests which saw the overthrow of some presidents, the instability, and civil wars witnessed in these Arab countries during the Arab spring is a clear indication that youth unemployment if not properly dealt with could destabilize a country. In order for a similar situation like the ‘Arab Spring” or anything more disturbing than that not to happen in Ghana, it is very important for the government and all other stakeholders that matter to put in constant and deliberate efforts to execute policies that will provide dignifying and well-paying jobs for the youth of Ghana.
According to the World Bank’s 2019 country report on Ghana, the Youth Unemployment rate as at 2019 stood at 9.16%. This is an increase of 0.3% of the 2018 rate which stood at 8.7%. In 2017 Ghana’s Youth Unemployment rate stood at 8.79%, 2016- 8.84% and in 2015, it stood at 11.40%.
A World Bank Document released on September 29, 2020, dubbed “Addressing Youth Unemployment in Ghana Needs Urgent Action calls New World Bank report, ‘Ghana is faced with 12% youth unemployment and more than 50% underemployment, both higher than overall unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan African countries. Despite major investments by both government and private sector, this challenge will intensify if job opportunities remain limited. To tackle youth unemployment, the report highlights the importance of having disaggregated data on youth job seekers by location, gender, skills, and capabilities to inform policy and funding decisions and respond with appropriate and tailored employment programs.
Successive governments have tried to deal with the issue of youth unemployment in Ghana but these efforts have yielded very little results. Experts have said that it is only when Ghana gets accurate data on youth unemployment and design very feasible employment policies that the issue of youth unemployment can be dealt with.
In the World Bank’s document, the authors suggest some key priorities to promote youth employment in Ghana.
One of such policies is the “Importance to align formal education programs and skills development initiatives”. This is situated in the context of a fast-changing labour market that requires new and different skill sets and adapt to new technology. All over the world, countries that are described as developed countries or countries that have seen some sort of astronomical development has evidence of skills development as the major basis for their development. As a result of the strategic skills development introduced in China’s formal education, the country is now an upper-middle-income country.
One other solution to the issue of youth unemployment is for the government to Partner with the private sector—such as involving employers in the design of training curricula and introducing certifications for occupational standards in order to adapt to the future of work.
The government has several problems to attend to with its little resources. Therefore, it will be appropriate for the government to partner with the private sector to take a part of its job of providing employment. In doing so, the government can provide stimulus packages or incentives to young people who have very lucrative business ideas. This could be in the form of financial or logistic loans with flexible terms of payment and very minimal interest. Tax holidays can also be provided to startups that mostly belong to the youth. This will reduce the financial burden on them and increase their capital so they can grow better and employ more people.
Another way to solve youth unemployment is creating jobs to correspond with the variety of graduates the universities produce each year. Within the issue of youth employment is the challenge of graduate unemployment which is more dangerous and disturbing. For years now some youth who graduate from universities stay at home for years without gaining employment. The cause of this problem can be attributed to the non-existent policy of providing employment to correspond with graduates produced by the various universities in the country. To deal with this issue, successive government should put in place a policy that can access the average number of students that will graduate from the various universities in the next five, ten and twenty years coupled with the various educational field they graduate from, so as to provide jobs that will correspond with these graduates. The provision of these jobs can be self-financed by the students themselves if a policy is introduced to use a part of their fees as investment and capital.
Again, youth unemployment can be solved if successive government officials will focus on bringing on board, policies that will gradually mitigate the unemployment situation in the country other than the focus on scoring points to political parties who later blame themselves as and when government changes.
When I take democracy into consideration as a theory that stands for “a system of governance that must have the will of the people as top priority.” In order not to profligate the pedantry and ideology behind the introduction of democracy, “Persons voted into governance must speed up their game and take a critical look at youth unemployment, because chapter (5) of the 1992 constitution article (24) clause (1) which states the economic right of a Ghanaian citizen has been breached and undermined for a longer period.
“Who will make Ghana record its first lowest unemployment rate”?
It is about time deliberate efforts are made to deal with the issue of youth unemployment now, else when the youth gets fed up and begin to demand their right to employment and economic independence, the stability of the country will be on the burning furnace.
Source: Adoanewsonline.com – Raphael Richstison