The youth unemployment rate in Ghana has more than doubled from an average of 9.0% between 2017 and 2020 to 19.7% in 2021, according to statistics contained in the 2021 Population and Housing Census.

Over the years, graduates of tertiary institutions go through frustrations in the quest to secure well-paid job opportunities.

Isaac Kwame Addae happens to be in this bracket because, for four years, he has tried without success to get a job.

He therefore decided to be innovative in attracting the attention of employers.

The dark young man held a placard on the streets of Accra to plead with prospective employers for a job opportunity. The inscription was printed in bold red and blue colours.

Living Standard Series: Why Isaac Addae used a placard to draw attention to his unemployed status
The inscription on the placard

“With the placard, it’s more or less like applying for 100 jobs. I wanted to save money because I was spending a lot,” he said in an interview on JoyNews’ Living Standard Series.

Living Standard Series: Why Isaac Addae used a placard to draw attention to his unemployed status
Isaac Kwame Addae

The current economic hardship has worsened his plight.

Isaac Kwame Addae – who hails from Asankran Breman in the Western Region – sees himself as one of the few who are lucky to have made it out of his poor village to the University of Ghana.

He managed to complete four years of university despite the odds of harsh city life and limited funds.

How to survive after his tertiary education was at the top of his agenda as he could not return to the village.

“It is good for me to endure the current hardship so that I can get something out of it in order to forget all my pains.”

Living Standard Series: Why Isaac Addae used a placard to draw attention to his unemployed status
Isaac Addae was a resident of the Commonwealth Hall

His first job was assisting at the Commonwealth Hall Library, where he had been a resident.

It afforded him some allowance and accommodation while he hunted for other jobs.

“I worked there every day. That was the time I was applying for more jobs – I could submit applications for more than five jobs daily. I used to receive calls for interview but even transportation was a challenge.

“It was really tough; I did all I could but still nothing happened as I expected,” he added.

Living Standard Series: Why Isaac Addae used a placard to draw attention to his unemployed status
Isaac narrating his ordeal to JoyNews’ Maame Esi Thompson [left]

But, four years down the road, Isaac’s hope of getting employed turned into heartbreak, frustration and depression.

“All my cash finished so I had to sell my laptop during the time to stay afloat. I then travelled to my village and started farming, which did not work. I had to employ a different approach and I was very determined to get my job,” Isaac Addae mentioned.

Realising there were no prospects for him in his village, he borrowed GH¢400 from his mother and a family friend and returned to Accra with a renewed determination to get a job no matter what he had to do.

So, he came up with the placard idea.

“Even though I wasn’t so sure that in the end I will get a helper, it was a do-or-die affair – I had to do it. Friends were saying it will be a big disgrace but I said ‘I don’t care’ because that was all I had.”

His efforts garnered some attention from employers who have been in talks with him, although he is yet to land a job.

Living Standard Series: Why Isaac Addae used a placard to draw attention to his unemployed status
The Commonwealth Hall library, where Isaac worked as an assistant

He has spent GH¢260 out of the GH¢400 he borrowed. With just GH¢140 remaining, Isaac is worried he might run out of funds soon.

Due to this, he eats once a day. This is to help him manage his funds better.

Living Standard Series: Why Isaac Addae used a placard to draw attention to his unemployed status
He hopes to secure a job offer to make life easier for him

“I make sure I don’t spend much and I don’t eat much too. I am just enduring and hoping to get a job because other than that, I will be in a hot pan.”

The clock is ticking but Isaac hopes that this time he gets a job that will make his life easier.