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Opinions Mon, 16 Nov 2015

Job creation missing in 2016 budget

Last Friday, Finance Minister Seth Terkper presented to Parliament the Budget Statement and Economic Policy for 2016.

The Finder observed that the budget statement did not outline clear-cut policies on job creation to absorb the teeming unemployed youth.

Our observation is occasioned by the fact that this year alone more than 13,000 workers lost their jobs, according to the Ghana Employers’ Association.

The revelation by the Employers’ Association is frightening considering already high level of unemployment in Ghana.

For example, the Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana (UGAG) estimates that over 68,000 graduates are produced annually by the country’s tertiary institutions, with about 600,000 already unemployed graduates in the country.

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Other unconfirmed figures available state that about 250,000 youth join the labour force annually with over 30% of this population holding either diploma, degree or a professional certificate. This makes it over 75,000 graduates per annum joining the labour force.

The fear of the young graduate deepens with the growing trend of membership of the Unemployed Graduates Association and the coming into existence each day of new tertiary institutions.

By the time these graduates pass out, they find to their deepest frustration that the job market is choked or that the courses majority of these graduates chose do not reflect national requirements.

An entrenched level of high unemployment among young people is dangerous for national stability.

A number of factors account for the growing youth unemployment in Ghana.

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Historical evidence indicates that youth unemployment in Ghana is due to, on the one hand, a more than a threefold increase in the youthful population and, on the other hand, failure of the economy to generate sufficient employment outlets.

Also, education and training have no link to the needs of the important sectors of the economy.

The near collapse of Ghana’s industrial base due to ineffective management of the divestiture process, which resulted in the closure of many factories without a structural transformation of the economy to generate alternative jobs for people, also accounts for the high unemployment levels.

Another factor contributing to unemployment is the shrinking of public sector employment opportunities coupled with a relatively slow growth of the private sector, as well as the lack of a coherent national employment policy and comprehensive strategy to deal with the employment problem.

The Finder urges government, to focus on implementing the National Employment Policy, which was launched recently.

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The policy, which rests on specific pillars, including employability and sustainability, will see the nation pursuing an inclusive strategy with the private sector in a more dominant role, to create productive employment and decent work for Ghanaians, especially the youth.

This policy must not be left to gather dust as has happened to several other policies in the past.

We must create the jobs now to save the youth, who are the future of the country, from venturing into activities that could destabilise our peaceful country.

Columnist: thefinderonline.com