“Young people are not taken seriously, opportunities are not there and financing is a challenge'', says Sylvia Sefakor Senu, Economic Analyst at UNDP, regarding the high youth unemployment rate in Ghana. “Even the networking, or knowing the procedures to follow can be a barrier.” The unemployment situation in Ghana is precarious. But how did we get here?
1) The economy structure
The high unemployment rate is mostly a result of how the economy is structured. “It’s structured in such a way that most of the growth sectors are not labor-intensive”, says Kordzo Sedegah, Economics Specialist and Head of Inclusive Growth at UNDP. Manufacturing jobs and agriculture tend to be employing a higher number compared to mining and finance.
2) Skills mismatch
The skillset of graduates does not relate to the necessary skills needed. Businesses need skills, such as digital literacy, that young people don’t learn in schools. The education system focuses more on theory lessons rather than delivering relevant practical and professional skills. Similarly, young people who have advanced degrees find themselves overqualified for ready jobs. The cause of the mismatch is a combination of education curriculums neglecting vocational and entrepreneurial training; poor connections between industries and schools; and work experience for the job market.
3) White-collar mentality
Because of commonly held perceptions in society, graduates are made to believe that working for a well-reputed establishment is the only way to be successful in life. This makes them desperate in competing for the few vacancies the companies have to offer. The number of graduates is bigger than the available supply of jobs Ghana’s economy has to offer.
4) Too many graduates in arts and humanities.
Many have linked the high unemployment rate to a large number of graduates produced in arts, social science, and business, as against STEM subjects. Training students in the arts and humanities is cheaper for universities than in technology and engineering. However, the labor market doesn’t need humanities students in such large quantities. Instead, science students are what the economy really needs.
Now that we know the causes, we can use these to find solutions. But this has to happen fast. If the labor force is not able to provide jobs to the rapidly expanding number of youth populace, the unemployment rate will only experience a further downturn.