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Authorities should overhaul their tired and tested job creation policies


unemploymentUntil now never in our national history has youth unemployment reached such dismal levels and generated such vigorous debate and discussions among policy makers and those determined to give a voice to the thousands of our unemployed young men and women.

Let us acknowledge the uncomfortable truth; finding solutions to the nagging and ever present problem of youth unemployment in Ghana has been daunting. Admittedly, there are no easy answers, as the national economy continues to struggle, and investments, both domestic and foreign, in key sectors of the economy have been few and far in between.

While every effort must be made by policy makers to give our youth all across the nation a step up the economic and financial ladder, no where are such efforts more urgently needed than in the northern regions where the youth unemployment rate is unacceptably high and endemic which abundantly explains why some think tanks and NGOs in the region are crying foul and pushing for more attention from Accra.

A 26-page report released last week by the Center for Learning and Integrated Development (CALID) a Tamale based NGO, essentially captured the complexities of the problem of youth unemployment in the north.

And the report unapologetically pointed the finger at official indifference as the primary source for the persistence of the problem. Though I have not had the privilege of reading the report, a splendid one from all indications, I am, nonetheless, enthusiastic and overly supportive its premise and overall objective, that of refocusing government’s attention on a problem that continues to bedevil the northern region and prodding policy makers to adopt a completely different approach to finding solutions.

CALID did not mince words in describing the state of youth unemployment in the northern regions. It boldly asserted that the longer it took the government to create jobs for our teeming youth, the more likely that there could be social unrest, “the government is sitting on a time-bomb,” the NGO eerily said.

Sitting on a time bomb? Well, that was a little dramatic, but the NGO struck the right chord: the implications of letting the youth unemployment problem fester cannot be emphasized enough. A continuous dismal job market will invariably compel young men to engage in activities that are detrimental to our social norms.

In addition, the nation suffers a demographic disadvantage as its youth seek opportunities outside its borders with some undertaking the long and dangerous journey across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean ocean to their ultimate destination, EUROPE.

Authorities have, to put it bluntly, been asleep at the switch. They have, in essence, not done enough to provide solutions despite the outward pretensions.  State agencies tasked with the singular responsibility of helping our young men and women find job opportunities are missing in action.

You don’t need social science research and the resulting empirical evidence to gauge the extent of the problem of youth joblessness in the northern regions. Just take a walk along the main streets of Tamale, Bolga, Wa, Yendi, Damongo and other urban centers and the crowds of idle young men will certainly break your heart. These are young folks who want work but cannot get it. The frustration and dejection can be traumatic.

Government should be brutally candid with our young men and women. There should be an honest conversation between authorities and representatives of the youth regard what exactly is being done to alleviate their ordeal, what policies besides the tired old ones, are being pursued to create job opportunities. It is counterproductive to build up false hope in young men and women because ultimately, the nation pays the price.







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