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Opinions Sun, 23 Jul 2017

The President's media encounter and job creation

Last week, His Excellency, President Akufo-Addo through the media, accounted for his six months stewardship to the Ghanaian populace. He touched on a number of issues with regard to the promises he made to the people prior to the 2016 general elections. This ranged from ministerial appointments, security, energy, education, agriculture, economy, health, job creation, among others.

The journalists were also given the opportunity to throw questions to the President for further clarification. I join the millions of Ghanaians who have commended the president for following the footsteps of his predecessors as far as such media encounters are concerned.

But, one major issue that is so dear to the heart of every Ghanaian, especially the youth, is job creation. It was thus not surprising when the president posited; "The greatest challenge we face is the creation of jobs. Young people are very anxious about not finding jobs, and their parents are even more anxious about the future of their children after seeing them through school. I am well aware that the success or otherwise of my administration will be judged largely on job creation."

How then could the government create jobs for the teeming youth in the next couple of years? In the last six months, the government has initiated policies and programmes to tackle the unemployment situation head-on. Among such initiatives are "Planting for Food and Jobs", "One District - One Factory", "One Village - One Dam", "National Entrepreneurship and Innovative Plan" (NEIP), among others. The rolling out of the free senior high school policy, come next academic year, is a long term antidote to the unemployment situation.

Whilst commending the NPP government for taking such radical steps in creating jobs for a section of the people, it is mind-boggling to see the ban on public sector employment still being in force. The erstwhile NDC administration placed a ban on public sector jobs as an IMF conditionality. This denied many young graduates the opportunity to work in public institutions. What was so worrying was the inability of graduate teachers from the University of Cape Coast and University of Education, Winneba to go to the classrooms to teach after their national service.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, none of the journalists invited to the media encounter raised the issue of the ban to draw the president's attention. Recently, His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II bemoaned the inadequate lecturers in our tertiary institutions and appealed to the government to consider lifting of the ban. Several unemployed graduate teachers have not relented in their efforts in getting into the profession they have spent money and time to acquire, not forgetting the taxpayers' money spent on them.

It is in view of the above that I write to appeal to the President to lift the ban on public sector employment without delay. This will help not only to improve productivity and the country's GDP, but also reduce the high level of unemployment among the youth. It is good to have a cross section of the youth engaged agriculture, sanitation and entrepreneurship, but for those who have been trained in other professions, I think the opportunity must be given to them in order to save their talents and skills from going waste.

God bless Ghana! God bless the Ghanaian Youth!! God bless Nana Akufo-Addo!!!

Columnist: Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang