A new initiative being implemented by the Government of Ghana and two German state institutions to create a central database for job openings which will be available to the working public is an excellent one. In a country where unemployment is rife and information is lacking, a database that informs the public about all job openings on offer at any given time holds enormous promise for reducing Ghana’s unemployment problem.
To be sure, the problem itself is huge. While there are no reliable figures on unemployment levels in Ghana – the World Bank’s estimate that less than three percent of the country’s labour force are unemployed must seem absurd to anyone living in Ghana – the conventional wisdom is that at least one in five Ghanaians are unemployed, or at least under-employed, meaning that they are engaged in part time jobs or activities that do not even nearly use up their real productivity capacity.
Indeed, this is why this newspaper completely agrees with the incumbent government’s assertion that job creation must be the prime objective of the Ghanaian economy. While macro-economic fundamentals such as economic growth rates and inflation are of profound importance in designing and implementing economic governance policy, these are of little practical use to an unemployed person; a change in the inflation rate for instance is meaningless to a person who does not earn an income with which to purchase goods and services, even if their prices are falling rather than rising.
However, it is instructive that despite Ghana’s improving macro-economic performance indicators, there has not been a significant increase in new job openings yet.
This is part simply due to the fact that job seekers do not know where the emergent job openings are. Few enterprises in Ghana can afford to advertise the openings they have and even when they can, the media has become so fragmented that the likelihood of a qualified person seeing the relevant advert is very low.
But if all enterprises big and small have access to a public medium where they can announce their job openings on a nationwide level, this problem would be more or less eliminated. Thus, for instance, a person in Tarkwa could be made aware of a job opening in Bolgatanga which he or she is qualified and well suited for.
Apart from improving the efficiency with which job seekers and job offers are matched, the impending new central database would also curb the increasing number of employment scams in Ghana, enabled by the desperation of job seekers and lack of processes through which they can do due diligence on the supposed employer.
We welcome this new initiative and call on all partners involved to be fully committed and speed up the implementation process. Any money spent by the Government of Ghana would be well spent since it would have a huge effect on every beneficiary and indeed the investment made would quickly be recouped in the form of personal income taxes. Any money spent by German state institutions would be equally well spent since it would directly be doing what our development partners set out to ultimately do – improving the living standards of Ghanaians.