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Youth Unemployment a perennial problem that needs immediate official attention


Among the cluster of problems plaguing our nation, none is more pressing and requiring of immediate attention than youth unemployment. It is the elephant in the room that no one dares talks about.

Despite tons of money and other resources thrown at the problem by previous administrations and the private sector, youth unemployment still remains stubbornly high and extremely difficult to resolve.

With all the challenges that youth unemployment presents, the lingering question remains: is there a way out of this depressing situation? Will there come a day when there will be a job for every young Ghanaian man and woman who wants one? I would hope so. But the prospects of that happening are bleak.

And the reasons are simple: ( A)the national economy continues to struggle mightily—-it is yet to recover from the 2008 global financial collapse and low commodity prices; (B) foreign investors are staying away because they don’t believe Ghana currently has the right investment environment because of the perceived sense of lawlessness permeating the country; (C) and worse, domestic investors have not been incentivized enough by past administrations, so they continue to sit on the sidelines with their capital. All of which means the current government has to tackle this perennial headache with all the financial resources at it can muster.

Data and statistics may not reveal the entire truth about this seemingly endless problem of youth unemployment. But all one needs to do is to look at our urban areas where youth unemployment is in the stratosphere.

During last year’s election campaign, then candidate Mr. Akuffo Addo repeatedly stressed that one of his paramount concerns was the plight of our young men and women who want to work but yet cannot find employment. He said he had a formula for a solution. Wonderful.

And, on a visit to Zambia last week where he interacted with Ghanaians resident in that East African nation, Mr. Addo reiterated his promise to help our young people find work. He said it was a matter of national security that he tackled the youth unemployment problem with all the seriousness it deserves.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Addo’s strategy for the simple reason that the longer our young men and women remain unemployed and can’t find something productive and meaningful to do, the more susceptible they are to external influences.

They become easy prey for those who will want to exploit their predicament to further their religious and political goals. And the consequences can be deadly.

Mr. Addo sure means well; but what he has to do if he indeed wants his plan to take off and yield the desired results, is to avoid the mistakes of his predecessors who pursued policies that largely neglected the growing and expansion of the economy and instead green-lighted the creation of universities which turn out thousands of graduates who have a difficult time finding work.

Competition for the few jobs available is always keen and often boils down to who has the better “connections.”  Our nation, unfortunately, has taken on the characteristics of India where an advertisement for few government jobs a few years ago drew millions of  applicants, a situation attributable to larger number of graduates than available jobs.

The onus to change the status quo vis a vis our youth unemployment problem falls entirely on the shoulders of Mr. Addo and the ruling NPP; they are in charge now, and millions of our young men and women are eagerly looking up to them to grow the economy which in turn will create jobs that they desperately need.


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