- The unemployment challenge persists despite several interventions by the government and the private sector.
- A new World Bank study provides options toward finding effective and sustainable solutions to youth unemployment in Ghana.
- The report offers solutions toward making Ghanaian youth competitive in a fast-changing world of work.
In 2016, a World Bank Youth Employment Inventory identified 40 major youth employment programs initiated by the Ghanaian government and private sector. That notwithstanding, youth unemployment persists and will only intensify with a projected annual 2.2% growth rate in the country’s youth population over the next decade.
A new report, “Youth Employment Programs in Ghana: Options for Effective Policy Making and Implementation,” offers some solutions to stakeholders to effectively and sustainably address youth unemployment.
“The study is not a policy document,” said Christabel E. Dadzie, Social Protection Specialist, World Bank and co-author “but policy makers and key stakeholders may consider options proposed for short to medium-term youth employment programming. Essentially, this report packages what we already know in viable options for success.
“As the population continues to grow with a large youthful population, government faces the challenge of providing the enabling environment that would facilitate the creation of decent employment opportunities for new entrants to the labor market,” notes Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.
The report does not view youth as one unit. Instead, it recommends categorizing youth based on their education status, location, gender, and other relevant parameters in order to provide tailored solutions to each group. It recommends that all public sector institutions working within the youth employment sector collaborate with the Ministries of Employment and Labor Relations and Youth and Sports to establish a common database with information on all categories of youth, such as young women, persons with disabilities, rural and urban youth, as well as educated and uneducated youth.
“Systems to improve service delivery at the national and local levels, that reduce fragmentation and duplication in Ghana’s employment sector are needed” said Pierre Laporte is Country Director for Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone “These include systems for data management, coordination, and monitoring and evaluation.”
To equip the thousands of graduates who enter the labor market annually with employable skills, the report calls for reforms in the country’s educational system to address demands of the labor market. Providing coordinated and comprehensive preemployment support services covering internships, job search and assistance, coaching and mentoring training, as well as honing soft skills and work ethic, are key to making young people competitive for the fast-changing world of work. These support services must be integrated into the education system to prepare students to transition smoothly from school to work.
Technical and vocational education and training must also be streamlined with standard curricula, proficiencies, and certification, and modern industry-relevant instructional tools are needed to increase quality outcomes. At the same time, policy makers must work to address negative perceptions that technical and vocational programs are a track for academically weak students. Such advocacy needs to include the youth themselves, who can help each other in changing the negative perspectives around technical education.
As employment opportunities for the youth are a function of the overall set of employment opportunities in a country, the report encourages policy makers to explore options based on the Ghanaian setting. These include agriculture and agribusiness, tourism, construction, sports, and green jobs, as well as building an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship and apprenticeship as a way for young people to increase their capacity. Incorporating digital technology in both training and on-the-job activities is critical, as are cognitive and socio-behavioral skills, such as critical thinking, emotional intelligence, teamwork, effective communication, and people management. All are prominent values sought by employers.
The report also suggests establishing public-private partnerships by offering private sector partners incentives to train their staff, involving employers in the design of training curricula, introducing certifications for occupational standards, and encouraging private companies to hire young people. Social inclusion can be promoted through targeted initiatives, such as improving female entrepreneurs’ access to credit and management training, as well as improving both infrastructure and equipment available for young people living with disabilities. These efforts will be important to increase participation of all young people in the labor market, and ensure that no one is left behind