Produce Jobs For The Youth- Dr Duffour Taunts Govt

Dr. Kwabena Duffuor

DR KWABENA Duffuor, a former Finance Minister, in the erstwhile Prof John Atta Mills-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, says there is a real cause for concern over young people’s limited access to decent employment in the country.

Speaking yesterday in Accra at a public lecture themed, “The Ghanaian Dream: Transforming the Economy Through the Creation of Jobs and Opportunities for All”, Dr Duffuor said the pervasiveness of underemployment and vulnerable employment, and the lack of skills among many in the labour force, condemned the youth to low quality jobs and unstable incomes.

“To begin with, unemployment is a pressing issue, with those in the 15-24 year age group facing an unemployment rate of 18.5 per cent. This means that those ready for employment within this age group – who are largely school leavers and dropouts are more than twice as likely not to find work as in the general workforce. This situation is more acute in urban areas, where the unemployment rate of this group is 27.1 per cent as compared to 11.4 per cent in rural areas,” he noted.

According to him, high youth unemployment was, however, just one aspect of Ghana’s job challenges, adding that a certain characteristics of the employed population also indicate a shortage of good quality, stable jobs with stable incomes, as well as the presence of skills gaps and other constraints that hinder the ability of many people to be more productive in their work or to move from low income productivity to high productivity jobs.

“For instance, among the employed, 66 per cent are in “vulnerable employment” – that is, they earn little and their jobs are insecure. About a quarter of such people are unpaid family workers, while the rest are in various forms of self-employment. In addition, there is a high incidence of unemployment, affecting 21.4 per cent of the employed population. Taken together, this indicates pervasive disguised employment within the workforce.”

He said linked to such a problem was the inability of government to adequately mobilise revenue from income taxes, since the incomes of workers in the informal sector were hard to tax directly.

Dr Duffuor continued, “A major limitation to moving people from low productivity or vulnerable employment to better quality jobs is their educational attainment and skills set. This is because as much as 20 per cent of the employed population has had no formal education, while 54 per cent have basic education only, and just 26 per cent have had secondary or higher education.

“Moreover, there is significant regional variation in educational attainment. Most employed people in Northern Ghana, for example, have never been to school, with an incredible 62 per cent of the employed population in the Northern Region (now made of Northern, North East, and Savannah Regions) not having had any formal education. This compares with 6.7 per cent in Greater Accra and 10.7 per cent in the Eastern Region. Also, whereas 11 per cent of employed people in Greater Accra have a university degree higher than the national rate of 4.8 per cent, the ratio is just 1.7 per cent in the Northern Region.”

He added that the creation of decent, high quality and sustainable jobs for the youth should therefore be at the top of government’s policy agenda.

“Putting more people to work in good jobs will yield high economic and social payoffs, as decent, sustainable employment produces decent, sustainable incomes, which improve the tax base and relieve pressures on the state to provide welfare and safety net services,” the former Central Bank Governor said.

BY Samuel Boadi