Head of the Economics Department at the University of Ghana, Professor William Baa-Boateng who doubles as a labour economist, has advised that governing bodies and policy makers must be circumspect when proposing policies geared toward curbing unemployment and the development of youths.
He said many policy decisions on youth development seem to holistically treat youths as homogeneous – failing to acknowledge differences such as age, gender, location, level of education and other demographic differences, a situation that might have led to unsuccessful outcomes of interventions.
“We should bear in mind that the youth population is not homogeneous. So when we are coming up with policies, we should not treat young people as homogeneous. They are heterogeneous in terms of age, gender, in terms of where they are located, and they are different when we talk about education,” he said.
He made this remark at the 14th edition of the National Development Planning Commission’s National Development Forum (NDF), dubbed ‘The Future of Ghana’s Youth: Challenges and Opportunities’, to collate the opinions of diverse stakeholders with the view of promoting broad-based citizenry participation and engendering citizens ownership of the national development agenda.
The forum also sought to consider the challenges of youth unemployment in the country, to come up with deliberate and consistent policies that will significantly enhance decision-making.
Mr. Baah-Boateng, addressing the gathering on the theme, also noted that the youths are opportunities for the state. However, given the rising unemployment rate, they are equally a threat to national security if their potentials are untapped.
“We are focusing on the youths because they represent opportunities for development and challenges, or a threat to our national security. So, on the positive side of the argument, young people constitute a potential resource for growth and development if they are properly or productively engaged.
“On the other hand, they can become a civil threat and source of social tension if these untapped resources are poorly managed. The youth represent the future of the nation, and when properly educated and engaged will be resources to national development – but a threat when neglected,” he said.
For his part, Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission, (NDPC), Dr. Kodjo Esseim Mensah-Abrampa, said to deal with unemployment in the country, the role of the private sector, public sector and even the youths cannot be underestimated.
“We have realised that there are challenges, but at the end of the day there are huge opportunities. It is the responsibility of all of us to provide access by which these opportunities can be taken. The role of the private sector, the role of government, the public sector and the role of the youths themselves as well as their parents in bringing up these young people so they have the needed social and moral pedigree. Also, for them to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to take advantage of these opportunities that are available,” he said.
He also assures that his outfit is leveraging current data from the Population and Housing Census to revise its plans to ensure effectiveness.