A lot has been said about unemployment among university graduates, but the real unemployment headache lies below the university level, the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), has said, expressing surprise that government’s main focus is on university graduates.
In its review of the 2018 budget, the institute notes that the unemployment rate is highest for persons with secondary school certificates, at 19.3percent, and 11.3percent for BECE certificate holders, but 7.3 percent for persons with tertiary educational qualifications.
“It is therefore surprising that the priority of government in the budget seems to be on graduates. Apart from the new nation building initiative intended – the Nation Builders Corps Programme (NBCP), which is projected to hire 100,000 graduates, the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan also focuses on providing tax reliefs to graduates who take up entrepreneurship,” the institute stated.
“While commending government for such active labour market policies, we encourage government to pay attention to the mass of unskilled school certificate holders.
The most sustainable way of providing hope for these youths is through industrialisation and structural transformation of the Ghanaian economy,” Dr. Charles Godfred Ackah, Head of Economics Division, ISSER, said in a presentation.
It is interesting to note, he said, that 40.1percent of the youth in Ghana, in the age group of 15-35, have no education while only 3.8percent have acquired a tertiary educational qualification.
Dr. Ackah urged the government to revisit the idea of selective industrial policy targeted at agriculture-based manufacturing (agro-industry), following the sterling examples of Brazil, China, Chile and Malaysia.
“The success story of China is not only fascinating but a clear testament to a simple yet highly relevant policy recommendation for today’s developing countries: if you want to prosper, you need to make stuff, from textiles, garments and toys to electronics, and ships and automobiles,” he added.
ISSER noted that there is no denying the fact that industrialisation is a crucial tool for economic transformation in Ghana, hence, it is refreshing to know that the government is considering industrialisation as the driver of its development agenda through the ‘One District, One Factory’ policy.
“Similarly, the ‘One Village, One Dam’ policy, together with the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme, if well planned and implemented, will boost the agricultural sector, serving as backward linkage to the manufacturing sector,” it noted.
Whilst calling for aggressive industrialisation, ISSER cautioned that the attitude towards implementation should not be laissez-faire.
“Government needs to take on a more active role in influencing the direction of investments, with a strong emphasis on promoting agro-industrial development given the relative abundance of agricultural raw materials and unemployed youth in this country.
Government should be more committed to the creation of an enabling environment in which the manufacturing sector would play a greater role in driving economic growth and export diversification. Central to this effort is the maintenance of low inflation and low bank lending rates supported by an investment climate which facilitates and simplifies business and trade processes,” it added.