Even though there is no universally approved or internationally accepted definition of youth age group, the UN has, without prejudice to other definitions, defined youth as a person between the ages of 15 and 24 years; the AU also defined youth as a person between the ages of 15 and 35 years; Ghana, like most African countries, has defined youth in line with the AU (between 15 and 35 years).
Unemployment is a stage where an individual is employable and seeking for a job but cannot find any. Youth (between 15 and 35 years) unemployment is where persons in the age bracket are looking for jobs and able to work, but cannot find any job.
Development refers to improvements in way of managing a country’s natural and human resources, to create wealth and improve people’s lives.
Youth unemployment in Africa today is of critical concern since 36.9% of the working population constitutes the youth yet most of them are jobless. This piece is going to focus on the causes of the unemployment situation in Ghana and the impact of youth unemployment on the economy and social lives of the people living in the country. The high levels of youth unemployment in Ghana can be attributed to the underdevelopment of the economy, low literacy rates, a small and under-resourced private sector, rural-urban migration, low-quality education and poor skills.
To begin with, youth unemployment comes with increased criminal activities. This is because the youth tend to have no means of survival since they are jobless. They result in anything available to survive. They end up being thieves, drug smugglers, armed robbers, prostitutes and other criminals. The ladies sleep with men for money which causes high rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. This act put the lives of the people of Ghana in danger. Also, youth who smuggle drugs are later hit with cancer which makes them die at an early age.
Another damaging effect of youth unemployment is depression and other mental health issues. Unemployment can lead to serious depression and anxiety especially to the youth who is seeking for jobs but cannot find any. Mental health is very important and should not be tampered with.
Youth unemployment leads to youth poverty. There is no means for the youth to attain money yet everything in the world cost money. They have no income to fall back on and the burden of debt will increase leading to economic problems. There is also an increased sickness rate among unemployed youth due to poor healthcare and poor dietary intake. Youth who refuse to turn to criminal activities are labelled poor in society. The youth is vulnerable during economic challenges, as a result, could be lured by power determined individuals or groups to cause violence.
Consequently, youth unemployment harms economic growth and productivity. This is because there is a risk of loss of talent and skills since a great number of university graduates are unable to find a job and put their knowledge and capabilities into practice in the working field. Ghana’s economy also suffers because of high youth unemployment. There are reduced productivity and gross domestic product. It also makes the government pay more money to security agencies on curbing crime and violence. There is also less money coming in from taxes as the youth are jobless.
From the above, it is evidenced that youth unemployment affects the individual, the family, the society and the economy at large. It is causing us so many problems and the fast we try to address high rates of youth unemployment in Ghana, the better for us as Ghanaians. Below are my suggestions for reducing youth unemployment in Ghana;
First and foremost, the education system should be changed to include more skills (vocational and professional skills) training other than theoretical learning in various schools. This will equip youth to startup businesses and also train other youth.
Also, Youth who has taken a step to start their businesses should be assisted to the fullest by the government, financial assistance, in terms of loans with low-interest rates and other benefits as less taxation for new business should be considered.
Furthermore, the Government should do well to create more jobs for the youth by bringing functional factories to local communities and employing local people to work in those factories. Agricultural initiatives should be locally based and owned to increase food productions.
Again, education and training programs should be organized annually to educate and train the youth to take up available job vacancies in the country. Employers, including the government, should be ready to accept fresh graduates and open to training them for positions.
Last but not least, there should be an unemployment policy where the youth can get minimum wages until they are employed. This policy would help support them take care of their financial needs with their families and also reduce the temptation to go into criminal activities.
In conclusion, to have a developed and self-sufficient nation, we need employed youth in the country. Youth unemployment could grow and become a huge problem difficult to address because of the number of challenges it has.
The government and the private sector should work together and create jobs for the youth because Ghana needs development with all its natural and human resources.
Meanwhile, the youth are also encouraged to start up their own business if they have the skills to do so.
By Caroline Anaabah
The writer is a final year student at the University for Development Studies (UDS) studying Nutritional sciences. She is also a role model, an articulate and passionate young woman who is open to sharing her knowledge and also learning from others. Apart from being a student, Ms. Anaabah is actively engaged in a volunteer service helping children in Zaare to read and write proper English and also understand Mathematics and Science at the Restorative Seed Society (NGO).