Unemployment among Ghana’s youth has been the single most pervasive problem in the country since independence, and especially since the 1970s when the population started booming through the fifteen million, through the twenty million and currently hovering around thirty million people, more than half of whom are under thirty years. The dangerous and frightening aspect of this canker is the fact that successive governments from the 1970s till date have not paid any serious attention to the issue of job creation, and most importantly, targeting the youth: those between 15 and thirty years. This is the group, the core of the nation’s population, its strength and life-line who keep graduating from elementary, secondary, post-secondary and tertiary institutions every year with hopes of finding jobs to live independently and to contribute their quota to the national life and national economy.
This has not happened and year after year, thousands from this population group leave our educational institutions with no jobs to go to. The younger ones fill the streets of the nation’s urban centers selling anything they can lay hands on to attempt make ends meet, if ever. Some of them turn to socially unacceptable behavior and lifestyles. We can even stretch it further to say that some even turn to crime when all hopes are dashed. You can see these from the numbers and ages of the youth that are arrested for involvement in crime.
Many security experts have been warning for years that the youth unemployment situation in the country poses very serious national security risks. However successive governments and politicians have been taking this serious issue for granted. They prefer going to the youth and throwing a few freebies to them when it comes to elections time. This is the most dangerous and unintelligent way to approach an issue as serious as youth unemployment.
In the light of the above, we are delighted at the news coming out of Ghana and from the current government on its announcement of a major, and if we may add, radical program, aimed at beginning to find some solution to the canker of youth unemployment, starting with the graduates from our middle-level institutions and universities. The launching of this new government initiative known as the Nation Builders Corps is aimed at offering on-the-job training for our young graduates to transition them eventually into meaningful employment, to as President Akufo Addo stated at the launching of the program, to “restore their dignity”.
Nothing lowers the dignity, self-worth and self-esteem of any person as unemployment. An army of unemployed youth threatens the nation’s security. They threaten the social cohesion, peace and stability of every nation. And they retard progress and development. We are therefore hopeful that this new initiative will be properly executed to achieve its intended purpose. Ghana’s history abounds with records of the creation of various programs whose objectives were well-intentioned. However, their implementations have rather benefitted those that are put in charge of solving the problem for which the programs were created in the first place. Evidence abound on the route that programs like SAADA, GYEEDA, YEA, Presidential Special Initiatives, Workers Brigade etc have taken over the years. The nation has little or nothing to show for all the investments pumped into these programs apart from enriching those that were put in charge. This Nation Builders Corp should not be allowed to go the same routes.
We congratulate the Akufo Addo government for this initiative and hope it works differently to at least make a positive difference in the lives of the youth of the country. We promise to be watching and commenting on its progress or otherwise.