The recent surge in unemployment in Ghana has necessitated the need for a new approach towards national development.
The Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, said recent studies had shown that some nine million jobs needed to be created by 2030.
“Job creation is at the heart of what I want to talk about today and that is because, at some stage, each of us will either apply for jobs, be given jobs or create our jobs”, he said
Speaking at the 73rd Annual New Year School Conference Youth School, Mr. Ofori-Attah, said based on available data from the Ghana Statistical Service, 11.5 million people are considered economically active. Of this number, 1.5 million people are unemployed.
“The unemployment rate among the population 15 years and older was estimated as 13.4 per cent and is higher for females (15.5 per cent) than males (11.6 per cent). Among the population 15-35 years, the unemployment rate is 19.7 per cent and is even much higher for young adults 15-24 years (32.8 per cent)”, he stated
He also said in 2020, there were slightly over 547,000 students enrolled in tertiary education. We can assume 100,000 of this cohort completed their education last year.
Based on the unemployment stats for young adults (15-24), we can estimate that of these 100,000 young people, about 32,000 are at home unemployed.
To help temper these dire numbers the government launched the YouStart programme which would provide young people, particularly graduates and SHS leavers, who have commercially viable business ideas with start up loans.
Launched last year, the YouStart initiative will provide private businesses with needed capital and technical support which would go a long way to provide employment opportunities in diverse forms.
It will provide capital for founders under the age of 34 years with soft loans of up to GH¢ 50,000 to help start-ups (particularly by young graduates and school leavers) and small businesses to expand, starter packs (Soft loans tied to equipment acquisition) of up to GH¢ 50,000 for individuals and GH¢100,000 for associations/groups and a standard loan package of between GH¢ 100,000 to GH¢400,000 at concessional rates for SMEs through financial institutions.
Building the entrepreneurial state
To reap the benefits of our population dividend by building an entrepreneurial state, the minister said COVID taught the need to re-orient our approach to job creation, mainly because the future of work had changed dramatically.
“To give our young people a better chance, we will prioritise skills development and enterprise promotion”, he said.
He said in order to build the entrepreneurial state, there was the need to strengthen the links between education and job market stakeholders, provide access to finance, skills, and markets for our young entrepreneurs, resource state institutions to support the ambitions of those who wanted to pursue enterprise and grow the capacity of the private sector to create jobs.