Kandifo Institute advocates more youth employment in public sector

Palgrave Boakye-Danquah, Executive Director of Kandifo Institute

Ghana’s population has a youthful structure, with approximately 57% being under the age of 25. This number is expected to double by the year 2030, according to the Ghana Statistical Service. Unemployment is in different forms but the very common ones are   voluntary and involuntary unemployment.  The need to create employment for our youth is very pertinent to the country’s national security. In recent times, there has been a rise in cases of armed robbery, cyber-crime and many deviant behaviours among the youth – which goes to reiterate the old adage that “the devil finds work for idle hands”.

In the field of economics, voluntary unemployment is defined as a situation wherein the unemployed person chooses not to accept a job at the going wage rate. On the other hand, involuntary unemployment occurs when a person is willing to work at the prevailing wage yet remains unemployed. Involuntary unemployment is distinguished from voluntary unemployment, whereby in one case workers choose not to work because their reservation wage is higher than the prevailing wage.

Firstly, a lot of youth have very great ideas but cannot implement them as a result of little or no funding sources for their ideas. Very high interest rates and high collateral demands from financial institutions have made the acquisition of funds a no-go area for young people and smallholder business owners. Government has done some work in providing flexible sources for startup businesses, but its efforts are woefully inadequate to meet the teeming number of youth who need such support.

It would be more effective if government made loans easy to acquire for the youth under a well-planned youth entrepreneurship scheme in all 16 regions of the country. This would enable young people who already have such talents and business ideas to startup businesses, which in the long run will help in the creation of more job opportunities. This will make Ghana an attractive investment destination for young people around the world, especially those in diaspora who want to start up businesses.

Secondly, government must provide entrepreneurs with well-structured spaces to run their businesses at subsidised costs.  The high cost of doing business like corporate taxes and cost of rent has increased over the years and led to the crippling of young businesses – making most of them unprofitable. This would be a great way to support young businesses. Also, providing lower interest rates, making friendly trade policies for entrepreneurs is also needed.

Retaining National Service Personnel from various university schools should be encouraged after their yearly mandatory national service. Government must ensure a good number of service personnel are retained in the organisation. This would ensure the employment of our youth since government is the largest employer. More so, the agenda to industrialise the country must be given a shot in the arm because the manufacturing sector also employs a lot of people.

Industrial parks and enclaves must be made available in all 16 regions of the country, and tax-breaks should be given to organisations which employ the youth. In cases where they can make 10 percent of their yearly recruitment be youth, this should earn them some generous tax-breaks from the GRA. If this is done very intentionally, the cases of rural urban migration will be mitigated and reduced to the bare minimum.

More industries should be set up in the country which make good use of the labour available locally. They can run 24-hour work schedules and pay workers based on their hours; this would thereby require more hands on board. Furthermore, running a shift-system can also be a strategy.

Some government sector agencies could employ the youth through a shift system, so each person can work within some hours and get paid hourly and weekly. Improving the quality and quantity of employment opportunities directly links economic growth to poverty reduction.

Agricultural sector

As the population grows there will be more mouths to feed, so the agricultural sector will always be one that has capacity to employ a lot of youth. The sector employs 65 percent of Ghana’s rural population according to stats from the Ghana Statistical Service.

A lot of work must however be done to make the sector attractive to the youth. Government can curb the issue of unemployment by focusing and investing more in our agricultural sector. The support can come to youth in the way of providing large tracts of lands purposely for youth farmers; and also give them some grants to start or expand their operations.

It will increase the production of food crops and create more opportunities for youth who want to venture into farming. This would also provide enough raw material for the food, agro-processing industry to also increase its level of production and employment. The growth in the agricultural sector will translate into an increase in exports of more farm produce and processed products.

This will bring more investors to the country, and will make the economy grow to develop the nation. Providing distribution and claims, there is a need to develop the capacity of workers to understand and promote locally produced goods and services much better.

Government should also patronise more locally produced goods and services. They can give out contracts to capable local businesses to help further develop their expertise and create more jobs for the youth. Building data and making it publicly available, accurate, affordable and accessible is also recommended.

Educational sector

The improvement of our educational system is key to our development agenda as a country and also to curb the problem of unemployment in our country. The need to improve our vocational and technical education is a good way of improving the human capital need for industrialisation. It will be in order to suggest making technical and vocational studies   compulsory in schools. This will help each student learn skills from school, and can make an impact on their lives for the better.

The learning of practical skills from technical and vocational courses would give the youth employable skills, which can help them start their own business in the case where they do not get employed in the mainstream. Government can also support technical vocational education and training (TVET) by retooling and renovating teaching and learning facilities.

Also, private companies should be encouraged to take students during vacations for industrial attachments to improve their knowledge in the sectors they want to venture into after their education.

Regular participation in workshops and seminars, provision of entrepreneurship programmes, internships, coaching and mentorship should be encouraged among students to prepare them before they enter the working world. Companies and investors who intentionally include in their plans employing unemployed youth should be given some incentives by government.

Effect of unemployment on the family system in society

Ghanaians by culture believe in a family system whereby each member helps to better the lot of the family as a whole. In the situation where someone is gainfully employed, he or she could be the sole breadwinner and provide care and protection to their family.

An unemployed person at home becomes a burden on the family, because the family sees the person as addition to the hardship they are trying to elevate themselves from by educating him or her. When the breadwinner is unemployed, the consequences are far-reaching: in that some children lose their education, while others are forced into child labour and early childhood marriages.

It also creates a lot of deviant youth, since the kids are left on the streets of big towns to fend for themselves without any proper skills. Unemployment increases poverty and hardship, strains family relationships, and causes poor mental and physical health. The need to ensure a large majority of our youth are gainfully employed is really important if the family system we have enjoyed over centuries is to be be maintained.

Effect of unemployment on religion

We live in a country where about 99 percent of the population are religious, which makes religion an integral part of our lives as a people. A lot of churches depend most often on offerings of the congregation as an income to run church operations and support its activities in the community it is located. COVID-19 made this assertion very clear when some churches were on the verge of collapse following the lockdown on all activities that involved the gathering of people.

Unemployed people can never contribute to funding the church’s budget. It would be a good idea that churches venture into establishing farms, hospitals, schools and create avenues for young people to be gainfully employed. A lot of churches have taken the lead in doing some of these initiatives – but since the case of unemployment has increased to a record high, churches should look at giving back to the society and helping in the best way they can to engage unemployed members of their congregation.

Effect of unemployment on the media

The media is said to be the 5th arm of the government and the only group that informs the population of what the government is about. The media can manipulate, influence, persuade and pressurize society, along with even both positive and negative ways. Some media are supposed to play a role of advocacy and education on their rights and responsibilities.

The media has the power to engage the powers that be about their vision or ask for a comprehensive manual to curb the increasing case of youth unemployment. They can also track government interventions in the area of youth employment to ensure the right things are done and if the projects are reaching the right people.

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) has expressed the hope the new investment inflow registered with the center last year will generate about 27,110 jobs when they become fully operational. According to the center 95.46 percent of the jobs would be reserved for the Ghanaians while the remaining 4.54 percent would go to expatriates. The jobs would be generated from the 279 projects that were registered with the center last year. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic that broke out last year.

The pandemic has exposed the need to expedite the process of moving Ghana to a situation beyond aid. That is why the Government has developed and is currently implementing. The one hundred – billion cedi Ghana Cares OBAATAMPA   programmer to revitalize and modernize our economy and return it high and sustained growth for the next three years.

Some of the key projects under the one hundred billion Cares programmer include;

  1. Supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into commercial farming.
  2. Building the country’s light manufacturing sector.
  3. Developing Ghana’s housing and construction industry establishing Ghana as a regional hub.

Creating jobs for young people and expanding opportunities for the vulnerable in the society including persons with disabilities.

Demerit of unemployment youth in the developing country.

  1. Low self – esteem
  2. Less economic growth
  3. Waste of resources
  4. Other mental health issues
  5. During unemployment there is no income which leads to poverty.

Policy directives for youth employment from both the government and the youth.

By the Government;

  1. Enough support funds for the COVET/ TVET.
  2. Support youth entrepreneurship.
  3. Investing more in the agricultural sector.
  4. More investment in career guidance and counseling, work- based learning, coaching and mentoring to equip young people.
  5. The government can maximize their impact by scaling-up these priority areas in the existing youth employment plan and improve outreach to the youth.

By the Youth;

  1. The youth need to be more innovative.
  2. Gather skills that create opportunities for self-employment.
  3. Offering free services where possible to support each other to gain knowledge and experience in preparation for permanent work.
  4. Creating opportunities in fields that are rapidly evolving as a result of technological innovation for example software development.
  5. Improve on information marketing.

In conclusion, the idea of reducing or solving the problem of youth unemployment is a national security issue and must be given the needed attention it deserves. The development of our country hinges on the quality and quantity of our human capital in all the sectors of the economy. Also patient capital should be made available for youth who want to start up businesses.

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