Despite having over 40 public programmes aimed at curtailing youth unemployment in Ghana, the country faces a 12 percent youth unemployment rate and up to 50 percent youth underemployment, according to a new report received from the World Bank last week.
The report titled Youth Employment Programs in Ghana, Options for Effective Policy Making and Implementation, described the challenge as enormous since the figures were higher than overall unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan African countries. In 2016, it was projected that, given Ghana’s sharply growing youth population, the country needs to generate 300,000 new jobs every year to absorb the growing number of youths joining the job market. But not only has this not happened, the COVID 19 pandemic has thrown thousands of young workers out of their jobs too over the past six months.
The report further warns that unemployment statistics mask the depth of the problem by failing to identify underemployment. Notes the World Bank: “Most jobs are low skill, requiring limited cognitive or technology know-how, reflected in low earnings and work of low quality. So, an additional challenge for Ghana is the need to create access to an adequate number of high quality, productive jobs.
Indeed, it projects that Ghana is approaching a situation where half of the country’s youth are doing jobs below their capacities and available hours for work.
It, therefore, urged the Ghanaian government to introduce urgent actions in areas such as agribusiness, entrepreneurship, apprenticeship, construction, tourism, and sports, all of which have the potential to offer increased employment opportunities to deal with the challenge.
Specifically the report notes that despite the numerous initiatives engaged upon to address the problem the lack of coordination among stakeholders, due to limited interaction among them, has led to duplication of effort. Furthermore Ghana lacks a comprehensive database on the characteristics of various categories of youth information, which is essential for the design and implementation of effective programmes.
Warns the report: “Without transformation of the current Ghanaian economic structure, employment opportunities will remain limited. A review is also needed of the country’s education and training systems so they can equip the youth with the requisite cognitive and soft skills and ethical values needed to thrive in today’s work place. Furthermore, the prevalent negative perception of technical and vocational education and training needs to change, so that people can appreciate the benefits that such programmes offer both individuals and society as a whole.” The report recommends that the private sector should seek to increase its participation in youth skills development and employment programmes because its involvement has been shown to be critical to the success of such programmes.
Here public private partnerships are needed to improve national systems for workforce development, including the curricula for training providers and national qualification frameworks for skills certification. Private sector employers should also offer apprenticeship and training programmes tailored to market needs.
Ghana’s employment and labor relations minister Professor Ignatius Baffour Awuah has lauded the report for presenting “specific options to guide the government in the short-to-medium-term to enhance effective coordination of youth employment programs.”