Accra, 15 July 2016
Key representatives of Government, political parties, private sector, students’ bodies, development partners, civil society organizations, academia, and the media gathered in Accra on Wednesday to discuss youth employment challenges and proffered solutions.
The dialogue was organized by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) with sponsorship from the INCLUDE Platform, whose activities are financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. INCLUDE is a knowledge platform that offers insight into policy matters and research issues related to inclusive development.
In his opening remarks, the Chief Economist of ACET, Dr. Yaw Ansu, said that Ghana’s greatest resource is the youth. “If they are given the right skills and policies that can create jobs then Ghana has a bright future”
Mr. Eben Anuwa-Amarh who represented the NDPC cited factors accounting for growing youth unemployment in Ghana. “Historical evidence indicates that, youth unemployment in Ghana is due to a more than threefold increase in the youthful population over the last 50 years, and also because of the failure of the economy to generate sufficient employment opportunities,” Anuwa-Amarh said.
Akua Ofori-Asumadu of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said the unemployment situation is not only restricted to Ghana but is part of a global problem of insufficient decent jobs for young people. She said that the ILO has a number of policies and programmes to improve working and living conditions, and enhance employment opportunities.
Christabel Dadzie of the World Bank highlighted the need for a holistic approach. The academic curriculum must include critical thinking skills to equip the youth with problem-solving skills in the country. Practical apprenticeship programmes must be introduced. Youth employment policies must be flexible to support the youth in different areas.
Mr. Alex Frimpong, CEO of the Ghana Employer’s Association listed macroeconomic challenges and a lack of intellectual property rights protecting business, as factors hindering economic growth and job creation in the private sector.
The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Hans Docter, highlighted the need to encourage policies that support the production of consumer goods that are difficult to produce locally. The Dutch government has supported skills development among the youth in the agricultural and ICT sectors over the years.
In his overview of youth employment and unemployment challenges in Ghana, Dr. William Baah-Boateng, Senior Research Fellow of ACET, said that the rapid growth of sectors with low labor absorption rate, increasing youth population and skills challenges, together with the high expectations of the youth are some of the drivers of youth employment challenges in the country.
The dialogue, which was held at Alisa Hotel, included breakout sessions where participants at this well-attended event, many of them young people, expressed their views on themes related to youth employment and skills training, growth strategy and agriculture. A follow-up dialogue with policy-makers is planned to take place soon.
The African Center for Economic Transformation is an economic policy institute supporting Africa’s long-term growth through transformation. ACET’s mission is to promote policy and institutional reforms for sustained and economic growth throughout Africa, so that African countries can drive their own growth and transformation agendas.