Many people say Ghana is expensive; cost of living so high that one would have to sweat well for survival. Even former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, has also observed this. Prices of goods and services are skyrocketing daily, making life increasingly unbearable for the ordinary Ghanaian.

There have been incessant public agitations against government for having shown little commitment to reviving the ailing economy. But top notch government officials would tell you their performance has been unprecedented and that life is rather better for citizens.

Just recently, an association calling itself “Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana (UGAG)” has emerged. It is to champion the interest of the unemployed graduate. Members always sing dirges to government for being rejected after many years of schooling — a situation they describe as unfair and wicked. They are usually made to do the compulsory national service after which they are catapulted into the tough world of work to battle it out themselves.

Some blame it on the nature of our education system. A significant chunk of graduates only roam about in search of non-existent jobs. For those who could do something on their own, challenges with credit accessibility are a deterrent.

Is it not worrying to see a polytechnic or university graduate cry for job? Where are the million jobs that government says it has created? I see the frustrations of graduates as a manifestation of abysmal performance of government in the area of job creation and employment. Government must wake up to its call to redeem the dwindling socio-economic fortunes of the country.

Cases of unemployment have been there long ago. Past governments did their best to improve the circumstances. The erstwhile Kufuor-led NPP administration rolled out a series of viable modules in tackling unemployment. Topical among them were; the Community Teaching Module, Community Policing Module, Community Health Module, Environmental Health and Sanitation Module, Youth-in-Agriculture Module and Transport Module.

Government, through the MASLOC, supplied loans with flexible terms and conditions to hard working, reliable members of legitimate groups for them to start and grow their own businesses.

There was a ban on public sector recruitment, I think somewhere in 2007. It was IMF conditionality. Then government had a hectic situation trying to mitigate the negative effects of this conditionality on its teeming graduates. Many graduates would not appreciate working in the employment modules. They regarded those modules as menial areas designated solely for secondary-level graduates.

NDC party, then in opposition, took advantage of the unlucky situation to convince desperate, unsuspecting electorate to vote them so they would make things better. The impression was crafted as though the government at the time was just insensitive to the concerns of its citizens. Candidate Atta-Mills did move from house to house promising many jobs in a spate of time should electorate give him and his party the nod to control the state purse. They also pledged to invest hugely in people.

Ghanaians, with a slim margin, conferred the constitutional mandate to rule on Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and the NDC party. Unemployment cases are soaring making graduates more disappointed and dejected each passing day. We are told the IMF conditionality has been taken away yet still no serious recruitment is going on, why?

Recently, I had no option but to shed some tears when a friend, usually with a chubby file in hand, complained of still jobless. He has submitted a number of applications but till date not even a call has come for him to appear for an interview. He graduated from the University of Ghana a couple of years ago with a First Class Honors in Humanities. Meanwhile, he has mates serving in government.

School leavers could create jobs if our system had been fair to them. The education and training given to college, polytechnic and university students are too bookish. An Agriculture student, for instance, should be adequately equipped with practical and entrepreneurial experience.

Government, corporate bodies and others should resource and motivate these graduates to go into self employment and investments. Banks and other financial institutions must relax their lending conditions for more graduates to also patronise.

It should be simple for a serious school leaver to access a credit facility from any bank. Banks can set up their own lending thresholds for this group of people. Bureaucracies and requirements for accessing loans must also be relaxed. Fresh graduates may not have the money to found their own businesses but with support, I believe they can do something.

ARTICLE BY: ANTHONY KWAKU AMOAH

E-mail: [email protected]   

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