Overview Of The Current Youth Employment Landscape In Ghana

Accra, Ghana, October 16, 2020//-Over the years, the government of Ghana and private sector actors have introduced many policy interventions to address the country’s high youth unemployment.

An inventory carried out by the World Bank in 2016 listed 40 main youth employment programs, including 18 led by the public sector and 22 by the private sector.

However, these programs appear to have had little impact because youth unemployment persists. And the challenge to Ghana will only take on added urgency as the number of new labour market entrants increases and outweighs job creation and as technology changes the nature of the job opportunities available for young people.

The 2015 Labour Force Report (Ghana Statistical Service 2016) estimated that the overall unemployment rate in Ghana was 11.9 percent and that 12.1 percent of youth were unemployed.

Meanwhile, disparities are found in the rural and urban employment rates. For example, the proportion of unemployed youth in urban areas (13.6 percent) is higher than that in rural areas (10.4 percent).

Student enrollment rates vary based on level of education and drop sharply for secondary and higher education programs. The Education Sector Performance Report 2016 estimates the transition rate from junior high school to senior high school to be 67 percent, whereas the completion rate for senior high school is projected to be
46 percent.

Total high school enrollment for 2014/15 was estimated at 804,974 students, and enrollment at the tertiary level for the same school year totaled 320,746 students.

In 2016 Honorati and Johansson de Silva (2016) estimated that 300,000 jobs would have to be created annually from 2016 until 2020 to absorb the increasing number of youth workers.

However, the employment structure of the Ghanaian economy has not seen much change over the last few decades. Most jobs in Ghana are low-skilled, requiring limited cognitive skills and technological knowhow, and they generate low earnings.

The main challenge for Ghana, then, is to create an adequate number of high-quality, productive jobs that could be filled by the youth emerging from employment and training programs.

Although the government has made a concerted effort to respond to this challenge, lack of coordination in the public sector has led to fragmentation of programs and duplication of effort.

Changes in political preferences tend to disrupt the targeting, goals, and objectives of programs. The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) is the lead and coordinating ministry for employment issues at the programmatic level, but it has limited resources to effectively implement its mandate.

Key functions of the ministry that should be strengthened include human resource planning, program monitoring and evaluation systems, and a comprehensive labor market information system, including management of public employment centers (PECs).

The government should also establish a database on youth that takes into account their different backgrounds and needs. Such information is critical for designing and implementing effective youth employment programs.

Gaps in Ghana’s youth employment programs, as identified through stakeholder consultations, include monitoring and evaluation, impact measurement, information systems, and the capacity to scale up.

Most programs do not have clear indicators that measure performance, and monitoring and evaluation of
existing programs are inadequate to ensure value for money.

Furthermore, most programs do not have management information systems to boost monitoring and project management or to track efficiency.

The major gaps in monitoring and evaluation make it challenging to identify ways to make funding decisions or
scale up projects. Currently, the exit strategies for the beneficiaries of most national programs are not clear, nor are the returns on investment for most government programs.

Global and country context 

Unemployment and underemployment are a global development challenge. Development in any country is enhanced when productive jobs are created.

With about 200 million youth unemployed worldwide, it is estimated that 600 million jobs will be needed over 15 years to maintain the current global employment rates (World Bank 2012).

Globally, the private sector tends to create the majority of jobs, whereas in most developing countries the majority of jobs are in the informal sector. It is thus critical to increase labor and sector productivity to create more decent jobs, especially in agrarian countries.

In Africa, projections indicate a youth bulge by 2035, which presents opportunities as well as challenges for countries. Currently, half of Africa’s population is under 25 years of age, and it is projected that between 2015 and 2035 each year will see an increase of a half-million more 15-year-olds than the year before (Filmer and Fox 2014).

In Sub-Saharan Africa, primary commodities still account for the bulk of exports, whereas the volume of labour-intensive manufactured exports is limited.

Nonwage work accounts for more than 80 percent of women’s employment. The main challenge for employment creation is increasing the productivity of the informal sector, which employs nearly four-fifths of the region’s
workforce (Filmer and Fox 2014).

The situation in Ghana is no different. Until recently, the country’s economy had been on a high growth path, mainly attributable to the sharp increase in the prices of its main commodity exports, cocoa and gold, and the launch of commercial oil and natural gas production in 2011.

This boom has allowed the country to make significant progress in reducing poverty over the past decade. Ghana met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty ahead of the target period, with the share of the population living in poverty falling from 52 percent in 1991 to 24 percent in 2012 (Ghana Statistical Service 2014; Molini and Paci 2015).

Meanwhile, the country saw significant improvements in health, education, and other areas important for individual and social well-being.

Between 2005 and 2012, Ghana created a considerable number of jobs while increasing total labor productivity. Job creation averaged 3.2 percent a year between 1991 and 2005 and rose to 4 percent a year on average between 2005

and 2012—a time when annual growth of gross domestic product (GDP) averaged 8 percent. Labor force participation for 15- to 64-year-olds remained high (at 80 percent of the total population), even as the share of youth (15- to 24-yearolds) enrolled in school increased from 21 percent to 31 percent and unemployment rates fell from 4 percent to 2 percent between 2005 and 2012.

Furthermore, labour productivity increased from 1991 to 2005 following a boom in the service sectors (mostly in financial, communications, and storage services).

It rose even higher from 2005 to 2012, driven by the rapid expansion of the extractive and construction sectors (Honorati and Johansson de Silva 2016).

Growth and job creation were accompanied by rapid urbanization and a gradual structural transformation of Ghana’s economy, as agricultural work largely gave way to jobs in services and, to a lesser degree, to industrial jobs.

As the economy underwent this sectoral transformation, employment also shifted toward self-employment off the farm (especially in urban areas) and, to a lesser extent, to private wage employment.

Over the last two decades, the share of off-farm self-employment as a share of total employment increased from
26 percent to 36 percent.

Over the same period, private wage employment nearly tripled, from 6 percent to 16 percent, while the share of public wage work fell from 9 percent to 6 percent.

In the last decade, half (1.5 million) of new jobs have been created in the off-farm self-employment sector and in urban areas, especially the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions (Honorati and Johansson de Silva 2016).

Ghana is currently facing major challenges in diversifying and sustaining its economic growth because its growth model has depended on natural resources, especially with the launch of commercial oil production.

Also, the manufacturing sector, which otherwise should create jobs, has stagnated, while most of the new jobs have been created in low-wage, low-productivity trade services.

Curled from a report titled: ‘Youth Employment Programs in Ghana Options for Effective Policy Making and Implementation’

Photo Gallery

Log in | Designed by Village Pixels