Getting to grips with youth unemployment in Ghana

Lack of resources and technical know-how, unavailability of required technologies, and an increase in population without a corresponding increase in jobs are some of the major causes of unemployment identified by stakeholders in Accra recently.

To grapple with the issues, the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) with the financial support of the INCLUDE Platform organized a National Policy Dialogue on Youth Employment Challenges in Ghana” on 13 July 2016 in Accra. The workshop allowed stakeholders to share their views on the challenges of youth employment and come up with solutions. 

Ghana’s greatest resource is its youth, said the Chief Economist of ACET, Dr. Yaw Ansu in his opening remarks. “If they are given the right skills and policies that can create jobs, then Ghana has a bright future,” Dr. Ansu said.

This view was buttressed by a representative of the National Development Planning Commission, Mr. Eben Anuwa-Amarh, who also emphasized population growth. “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,” Mr. Anuwa-Amarh said.

Ms. Akua Ofori-Asumadu of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was of the view that the youth unemployment situation was a global problem and not only restricted to Ghana. She said that the ILO has a number of policies and programmes to improve working and living conditions, and enhance employment opportunities.

On the other hand, Ms. Christabel Dadzie of the World Bank highlighted the need for a holistic approach to solving the unemployment problem in the country. She advocated for the inclusion of critical thinking skills in the academic curriculum to equip the youth with problem-solving skills. Practical apprenticeship programmes must be introduced. Youth employment policies must be flexible to support the youth in different areas.

But the outgoing Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Hans Docter pointed out that Ghana was not making the most of opportunities already available in agriculture and Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). He said that there were many attractive opportunities in areas such as poultry production, but Dutch investors were put off by high taxes and bureaucratic bottlenecks. Nevertheless, he said the Dutch government was supporting youth entrepreneurs in Ghana to go into ICTs.

Speaking on the factors hindering economic growth and job creation in the private sector, the CEO of the Ghana Employers’ Association, Mr. Alex Frimpong, listed macroeconomic challenges and a lack of intellectual property rights protecting business as challenges to the smooth running of businesses in the country.

The tone for breakout sessions was set by Dr. William Baah-Boateng, Senior Research Fellow at ACET, who gave an overview of youth employment and unemployment challenges in Ghana. Dr. Baah-Boateng said that the rapid growth of sectors with low labour 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.

During the breakout sessions the participants, many of them young people, expressed their views on three themes, namely skills training and dynamics of youth employment, agriculture and youth employment, and growth strategy and employment response. 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.


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