Director at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER)-University of Ghana, Professor Peter Quartey, has advised government to focus on two main areas – the agriculture and manufacturing sectors – if it wants to deliver sustainable jobs to tackle the youth unemployment menace.
In an interview with B&FT, the professor said given the enormous amount of arable land available in all parts of the country, it presents the best opportunity for government to introduce policies which will make agriculture attractive to the youth – as its value chain will further lead to job creation in the manufacturing sector.
“Agriculture and manufacturing are the two areas where we should be creating more jobs. We have to make agriculture more attractive. We have a lot of fertile land, so we can go into commercial farming and support large-scale farmers.
“Then, we look at the value chain. We need to process more of the agriculture products. Once you process, it becomes manufacturing. To what extent are we promoting the manufacturing of agriculture products? This is for the private sector, but government should provide the enabling environment for the private sector to flourish and be able to expand and employ more,” Prof. Quartey said.
Another area the professor encouraged government to be particular about is the financial sector, as its robustness is what drives economies that want to industrialise and create jobs. “The financial sector should also be looked at because it is the engine of growth. When it goes down, it affects all critical sectors. So, agriculture, industry and the financial sectors should be the main areas driving job creation,” he said.
Speaking ahead of the 2022 budget presentation sometime this month, Prof. Quartey said it will be better for Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to provide data on how growth of the economy has translated into job creation in all sectors, so that it will guide future policies on where to channel resources.
“We don’t want to see jobless growth, whereby we are one of the fastest-growing economies but this not translating into higher numbers in employment. It means the sectors that create the jobs are not growing, and so we want to know more about which sectors have grown and how we are tackling unemployment to minimise the challenge of jobless growth,” he said.
The promised jobs that are yet to come
Government, in the 2021 mid-year budget, said it was going to create some one million jobs in the next four years to alleviate the jobless situation among the youth through interventions under the Ghana CARES programme.
The initiatives, according to the finance minister, will be to promote growth in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), support new ventures, and stimulate innovation and start-ups.
One of such programmes, the minister said, is the Enterprise and Youth Support Fund (EYSF) which aligns with government’s overall strategy of developing a competitive and viable private sector economy through the ‘YouBanc’ initiative that has the aim of financing youth-led start-up businesses across the country.
As part of this initiative, the minister said government will be setting up an online investment hub for youth across the country to access information for the purpose of establishing businesses. Under this initiative, it is estimated that over 100,000 jobs will be created.