It is not gainsaying that youth unemployment has become an albatross on the necks of many governments in the global arena. The situation is even worse when the rate of inflation begins to increase at the same pace with the rate of unemployment. In economics it is termed stagflation. Unemployment issue has taken a different dimension in Ghana as for the first time in the history of our beloved country; an association of the unemployed graduates has been formed to bring to bear the seriousness of this socio-economic problem. A cursory look at the political climate in Ghana reveals that, job creation had been a top campaign message and the ability of a candidate to win an election depends to a very large extent, on his plans to reduce the level of unemployment among the youth.

Whilst most developed nations have put in mechanisms to ameliorate the problem of unemployment, their counterparts in developing countries have lacked the wherewithal to bring the problem under control. The situation in Ghana is very pathetic, to say the least as a common systematic and accurate data on unemployment and unemployment rate is non-existent. Although a full ministry has been put in place to manage the sector, the number of public sector workers, those in the private sector, and the number of the unemployed are unknown. In fact, the lack of commitment on the part of government towards unemployment issue was manifested when a deputy minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa propagated that 1.6 million jobs had been created by the NDC government within a spate of two years into the Mills’ administration. Fortunately for Ghanaians, the then Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Hon. E.T. Mensah argued otherwise, as he could not even understand how Ablakwa conjured those figures to deceive Ghanaians.

For some of us, our basic knowledge in economics teaches us that unemployment simply refers to the situation where people who are ready and willing to work at the existing wage rate cannot find jobs to do. A study of Ghana’s population pyramid shows that there is a considerable number of Ghanaians between the ages of 16 and 65 years but how many of them are gainfully employed, if I may ask? There is no doubt that a gargantuan number of this age group is prepared to work at the current minimum wage rate of GHC 3.73 (37,300 old cedis) per day. However, it is regrettable to note that enough opportunities are not created to absorb this huge number of the unemployed. Looking at the negative effects of unemployment in an economy like ours, one would expect the government to redouble its efforts in making the issue of unemployment a top priority in its developmental agenda. Unfortunately, the NDC government believes that setting up Heroes Fund to reward victims of electoral violence should take precedence over job creation.

It is in this direction that I side with Nana Akuffo-Addo, the NPP’s flag-bearer, on his vision to create more jobs for the teeming youth by moving Ghana from what he terms; a Guggisberg economy (raw material producing) into an industrial one, by focusing on structural transformation, education, and skill acquisition. We will be doing a great disservice to ourselves if we continue to rely on government to build factories and industries in this modern world. Even if these factories were to be built today, I personally envisage that they cannot stand the test of time. And should anyone doubt my stance, he/she should assign reasons as to why the over 300 factories built by Guggisberg and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, together with the numerous President’s Special Initiatives (PSI) introduced by His Excellency, J.A. Kufuor collapsed. Our lukewarm attitude towards government property has not changed and the underperformance of the public sector is a clear case in point.

For Ghana to increase the level of employment in the short to medium and long term, there is a need to first and foremost provide an accurate data on employment and unemployment in the country to enable the government identify the type(s) of unemployment peculiar to our case. My observation from the micro and macro economic dynamics indicates that classical, seasonal, and structural types of unemployment confront Ghana’s economy. Classical unemployment occurs where people who have learnt specific trade find it difficult to set up their own businesses due to inadequate financial capital. People in this group are the hairdressers, tailors, and carpenters. Seasonal unemployment also occurs where people become ineffective during a particular part of the season due to changes in the weather conditions. The people mostly affected are farmers and others in the agricultural sector. Whenever an economy undergoes basic structural changes there is the possibility of some part of the labour force being thrown out of employment. These changes may require different or new skills from workers and those who lack those skills suffer as a result of the structural changes. For instance, many jobs now require workers who are computer literates as against typists and thus those who are unable to fit in properly face the structural type of unemployment.

Perhaps, some economists may argue that a combination of monetary and Keynsian economic policies could help address this social canker taking into consideration our socio-economic and political environment. I believe that Ghana could make headway if and only if the government allows the private sector to take the lead. Therefore as a matter of urgency the government should provide all the necessary assistance ? social, economic, or political to individuals (private sector) to act as the engine of growth. Fortunately for Ghana, all the factors of production, namely, land, labour, capital, and entrepreneurship are relatively in abundance. We can only increase economic growth, that is, shift the Production Possibility Frontier (PPF) outward if government policies are geared towards the expansion of these factors of production. We need to maximise our land and all that it is made up of, that is, the trees, rivers, lakes, sea, mineral deposits, agricultural wealth etc. This could be done by removing any form of institutional and bureaucratic bottleneck on land acquisition. We need to maximise our labour force ? skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled by giving them better training services. All Ghanaian workers should be equipped with better tools by their employers. There is a need to improve workers’ conditions of service and wages/salaries. Ghana cannot afford to lose huge amount of money as a result of strike actions and demonstrations by workers. Therefore, the problems in the new pay structure (single spine salary structure) initiated by the NPP and implemented by the NDC should be addressed. How does the government expect a professional who has spent 3-4 years (36months) in a College of Education or the University to receive a lower salary than a police officer who had only 6 months’ training? How could this anomaly be justified and how does the government expect the teacher to give off his best? We also need to invest in time to save time at work places and here proper supervision could do the trick.

Having said that, the government could find a way to maximise our enterprise by giving business guidance, proper training, financial assistance, tax exemptions, tax rebates, and tax holidays. The removal of bureaucratic tendencies, coupled with a reduction of import duties on machines and other equipment for industrial purposes, could go a long way in helping many business-minded people to establish more factories and industries. The era where rural and commercial banks declare huge financial profits annually whilst the rural folk who form the bulk of the shareholders live in abject poverty should be a thing of the past. These profits should be ploughed back into the activities of these rural shareholders as affordable loans. The loans should be given to the applicants at the right time of the season to enable them expand their businesses.

The government should also review its monetary policy by bringing the bank rate down to say 5% per annum. This will compel commercial banks to reduce interest rates for the private sector, especially those in the agricultural sector for them to access loans at reasonable interest rates. In this sense, the effects of classical and seasonal unemployment could be tackled as farmers, hairdressers, petty traders, carpenters etc would be relieved of any financial burden. As a medium to long term measure, Ghana’s educational curriculum should be reviewed. Such revision should take into consideration the needs of the country vis-`a-vis the capacities of our educational institutions. We need to provide data on the number of accountants, teachers, engineers, lawyers, sociologists, historians, economists, doctors, scientists, mathematicians, nurses, and other professionals. Knowledge of this will help the government to allocate resources equitably when preparing its financial statement (Budget). If it becomes so necessary for the government to sponsor some students to study certain subjects of national interest, it should not hesitate to do so.

In addition, the government should team up with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and other educational and research institutions to come out with research findings with regard to expanding the economy and creating jobs and wealth. We cannot afford to be thirsty when we live close to plenty water. That will be tantamount to ‘stupidity’ on the part of our leaders. We can neither fail the youth of today nor tomorrow else they will live to question our intellectual prowess and blame us for their woes. Ghanaians deserve better. Our children born and unborn deserve better. Let’s therefore rise above partisan politics and work hard to make our dear nation a better place to live. We do not necessary need a religious leader ? Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist, Rastafarian etc to solve the myriad of problems in our country. The electorate did not vote for a Pope or Kwaku Bonsam to solve our problems. Therefore, on December 7, 2012, I’ll urge all right-minded Ghanaians to vote for somebody who has the vision, the experience, the commitment, a proven record, and the leadership qualities who can solve this social canker and bring improvements in our lives. Japan, China and Brazil never voted for a Christian, a Muslim, a Budhist, a Rastafarian but they voted for visionary politicians who could lead their countries and improve their living standards. Politicians who have the wisdom and policies to expand the economy, improve education, health, the environment, and stamp out corruption without dolling out a colossal amount of GHC 92m (920 billion old cedis) to a party financier should be considered in Election 2012.

God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Hull. UK. 07944309859

Member, Communications Directorate, NPP-UK.
Official blog: (www.katakyie.com) katakyienpp.co.uk

Articles by Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang (a.k.a. Paulucious)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.