“You should use the knowledge acquired from your unique training to create jobs and employ others instead of looking for employment within the public sector which is already in distress…

Be the entrepreneurs you have been trained to be and let others follow your good example. Take advantage of whatever opportunities are out there to start your businesses as a way of contributing to the development of our nation,” Professor Mohammed Salifu (2016)

Director-General of Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) Prof. Mohammed Salifu, has recently entered into collaboration with Lancaster University (UK) to facilitate Ghana’s growth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (1957) highlighted the importance of STEM as an exit policy towards economic growth and sustainable job creation,

“produce scientifically minded people” through “a higher standard of technical education”.

Ghanaian graduates who are equipped with such skills are most likely to succeed in a post-covid-19 world. The ‘new normal’ requires the public and private sector to re-think sustainable and economic growth policies, in this ever-changing global landscape.

Sustainable job creation should transcend beyond the global coronavirus pandemic. Policy measures issued through the African Continental Free Trade Area, ‘1 District 1 Factory’, Digitisation of the economy and the ‘CARES Program’ can all contribute to providing alternative employment pathways for graduates.

“The Effutu dream is a never say die spirit. Persistence, hard work and determination we will get there”

– Hon. Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin – (Facebook, 2021)

Ghanaian graduates should also maintain a positive mind-set and seek other pathways for wealth creation through patriotism. The ‘Year of the return’ was described as “a great success” by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, (BBC News, 2020). The entertainment and hospitality sectors benefitted greatly. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture can continue this initiative and provide employment opportunities for graduates, with support from the private sector, such as travel tours, food and music. The initiative aimed to promote Ghana as a tourism destination and investment opportunity.

  1. Education and the agricultural sector

Cape Coast University is encouraging students to own an organic garden. Dr. Frank Kwekucher Ackah a lecturer at the School of Agriculture, is responsible for teaching students how to cultivate vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, spring onions, and garden eggs in recycleable plastic bags. Instead of looking towards public sector jobs after graduating, students are now being equipped with the skills necessary to grow their own food and become self-sufficient.

“Thanks to planting for food and jobs, food has been abundant in our markets… The excellently executed policy, for planting for food and jobs has laid the foundation for the agricultural transformation of our country.”

– His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana,

State of the Nation Address 4th January (2021)

With policies in place such as ‘Planting for food and jobs’ the agriculture industry can benefit from skilled labour personnel and improved technology. With GHC432 million in the pipeline to support this program, many graduates can see agriculture as a viable pathway for job creation.

‘The Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Training Forum & Expo’ and ‘Gold in The Soil Award’ by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture are also policy measures to empower entrepreneurship. Women have more of an incentive to work in this industry due to increased support.

  1. Land ownership for women

Women who made up 47.4% of graduate enrolment at the University of Ghana (2020), can also benefit from the new Land Act 2020 (Act 1036). This gives women the opportunity to buy land with fewer restrictions.

Previously men needed to accompany women to purchase the commodity, but on the grounds of gender discrimination these barriers have been removed. Female graduates now have the same opportunity as men to start commercial businesses in areas such as agriculture or property development, as a result of this amendment of the law. This serves as a pathway to job creation outside of the public sector, with more access to resources.

  1. Higher standard of education required

Education Minister Hon. Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, is supportive of policies aimed at improving the digital literacy and problem solving skills required for students beyond graduation. In order for Ghanaian graduates to be competitive, key competences in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) need to be met.

A STEM program is currently taking place in Jachie (Bosomtwe Constituency). Acceptance for students is free after an exam is successfully completed, to gain access to the scheme. Such initiatives are key for sustainable job creation outside the public sector. To remain competitive graduates should be aware of the need for a higher standard of education.

  1. $250 million approved for job creation

“By offering long-term wholesale financing, credit guarantees, and other services, the Ghana Development Finance project will help increase overall lending to priority sectors and market segments,” 

“The project is aligned with government priorities outlined in the Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies and is an integral part of the World Bank Group’s efforts to promote sustainable growth in Ghana.“

Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia

The World Bank supports the establishment of the Development Bank of Ghana to boost access to finance and job Creation. It is expected to increase the number of viable micro, small, and medium sized enterprises with access to long-term financing.

$250 million is set to prioritise youth unemployment, through partnerships with the private sector. The labour market post covid-19 is set to require new skills. It aims to “improve access to credit” and “better prepare young people for the transition to work” (The World Bank, 2020).

  1. Public and Private sector collaboration

The World Bank calls for public and private sector institutions to work together for the benefit of sustainable job creation.

“Establishing public-private partnerships by offering private sector partners incentives to train their staff, involving employers in the design of training curricula, introducing certifications for occupational standards, and encouraging private companies to hire young people.

“Youth Employment Programs in Ghana: Options for Effective Policy Making and Implementation,” (2020)

According to The World Bank, the success of job creation in Ghana is a combination of both public and private sectors working together. The pathway to sustainable employment is a joint effort.

  1. Digitisation of the economy

 Presidents Vision: 2017-2024,

Highlights of The 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2021 FINANCIAL YEAR

  1. $315 million jobs and skills project

An initial $200million for ‘The Ghana Jobs and skills project’, and a further $115 million has been approved by The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors (The World Bank, 2020).  Through training and grants, graduates who are STEM focused can seek employment in areas driven inherently by technology. Graduates who look up to work in the public sector now have an opportunity to do so with the digitisation of the economy. A recruitment drive would be required in order to meet the demands of this initiative. Job creation is the primary objective.

“..digitization of archives and other public records; increase in internet bandwidth for district health centres and hospitals and other government services in 254 districts… Automation of the Judiciary, and the development of an integrated information management system for the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice”

– The World Bank, e-Transform Ghana Project, (2020)

  1. African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

“1 in 10 small and medium-sized enterprises will disappear as a result of the global pandemic.”

  • Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Spring Meetings (2021)

The ‘CARES Program’ has set aside GHC 100 billion to provide “economic revitalisation and debt sustainability” for the Ghanaian economy over the next two years (2021-2023).

The AfCFTA started on January 1st 2021, and sets out to facilitate intra-African trade and boost “Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.” (African Union). Graduates should look to the continent for employment opportunities.

By 2050 1 in 4 of global population will be living in Africa (Unicef). There is opportunity for migration and movement across the continent for job alternatives. The AfCFTA will allow the private sector to thrive. Trade, industry and manufacturing set to benefit from reduced barriers to entry.

The 1 District 1 Factory program is a private sector led initiative, with the support from government agencies. Ghanaian entrepreneurs can “change the nature” of the economy. Opportunities will be widely available for a skilled labour force. Graduates would benefit from the surge in new business activity and recruitment. 232 projects have been signed off for completion, with more in the pipeline.

Conclusion

Public sector jobs have historically been well sought after by Ghanaian graduates seeking job security. The world is changing. Global population is on the increase, and food supplies are running short. There is a need for new technologies and expertise. Quality education systems are required for a competitive work force. Access to finance and investment is inherently linked to Ghana’s position on job creation. STEM programs are vital for Ghana’s “economic revitalisation and debt sustainability”. Graduates should ensure they focus on educational programs that serve the current global demands.

The alternative to public sector employment is the private sector.  Joint ventures through public initiatives such as 1D1F offer graduates an entrepreneurial pathway.

The global pandemic may have accelerated the need for job creation. A new way of doing business is required to maintain competitiveness.

Implications and recommendations

The pace at which these initiatives are being implemented may in fact be detriment to the economy. Can supply keep up with demand? Is the labour market skilled enough to maintain a sudden shift in output and productivity?

Ghana is well-positioned for natural resources such as Gold, timber and cocoa. Rwanda, “which was nearly brought to its knees by genocide in 1994”, is now being dubbed the “Singapore of Africa” (UN).  Ghana should be just as capable of creating a new technological revolution. Graduates should be aware the landscape is changing.

Sustainable long-term job creation also resides in manufacturing and agriculture, with policies such as ‘Planting for food and jobs’.

Consideration into new technologies and e-system’s need addressing.  Measures need to be in place to ensure there is not an increase in unemployment once the digitisation of the economy has completed.

Sustainable growth is required for job security with a balance of both public and private sectors.

Sources

The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2021 Financial Year, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, MP, Suame, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Majority Leader & Leader of Government Business

Highlights of The 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2021 FINANCIAL YEAR, by Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Majority Leader & Leader of Government Business.

Additional resources

https://www.dw.com/en/ghanas-new-graduates-struggle-to-find-jobs/a-19305185

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51191409

https://www.mofep.gov.gh/news-and-events/2020-11-20/government-launches-gh%C8%BC100-billion-cares-programme

https://web.facebook.com/AlexMarkin2016/

https://www.ug.edu.gh/about/enrolment-and-graduation-statistics

https://ucc.edu.gh/news/ucc-lecturer-promotes-gardening-halls-residence

https://www.myjoyonline.com/composition/comp-news/hp-news-6/women-no-longer-required-to-come-along-with-a-man-to-acquire-land-kwame-gyan/

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/We-encourage-collaboration-Prof-Mohammed-Salifu-1226233

https://www.pulse.com.gh/news/local/govt-keen-on-improving-stem-education-in-ghana-dr-adutwum/w7pvd3k

https://mofa.gov.gh/site/

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/10/29/world-bank-supports-the-establishment-of-the-development-bank-ghana-to-boost-access-to-finance-and-job-creation

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/09/29/addressing-youth-unemployment-in-ghana-needs-urgent-action

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2020/09/29/options-for-effective-planning-and-implementation-in-ghana-s-youth-employment-sector

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/06/30/world-bank-supports-jobs-skills-development-and-digital-transformation-in-ghana

https://au.int/en/cfta

https://www.unicef.org/

https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/april-2011/information-technology-super-charging-rwandas-economy

The author, Kojo Adaah can be contacted via kojoadaah@hotmail.com