LEADERS OF TODAY AND FUTURE
As a young person growing up in Africa, I am very much aware of the enormous responsibilities bestowed upon me. Africa is the only continent anywhere in the world that is yet to see any serious developmental progress in every facet. The 21s...t Century is a technological century in which everything is done very efficiently and quickly. Any person, country , or continent that does not take itself seriously will not only be left behind, but also will be consigned to the history books.
This piece explores the challenges of youth employment programmes in Ghana and how best we can make improvements to serve the real developmental challenges facing the country.
The idea or concept of any youth employment programme is laudable and should be supported by all and sundry. Youth in Ghana make up of more than 50% of the population. What this means is that when the youth, in this case the majority of the population, is left unattended to or neglected in the developmental agenda of the country, there will be serious consequences.
In Ghana, there is what is known as the National Youth Employment Programme or the NYEP. It is the only youth programme currently being implemented by the government. The NYEP is well-intentioned, but not highly effective. It is Ghana’s only national youth employment blueprint, but it is not working as well as it could. More specifically, any programme that seeks to create employment or provide jobs for the most active section of the population must be comprehensive and sustainable. After all, the essence of development is transformation and the sustainability of what is transformed.
The biggest challenge of the National Youth Employment Programme is sustainability. The programme currently, in my humble opinion, is not sustainable. There are other challenges as well. Most people have questioned the viability of the programme. I will discuss this later on in this piece.
Under the NYEP in Ghana, there are different modules. There is the teaching assistance module, which is geared towards augmenting or adding to the teachers we have in our basic schools. There is the health assistance module, as well as the Traffic Warders module, which helps in stabilizing the traffic situation in our cities. There is also the environmental and sanitation module. And just recently, there was a module added called Youth in Agriculture. While all these modules are helpful, in this piece I will argue that they are not viable and sustainable.
The fact that we still don’t have a national youth policy in Ghana is enough evidence to suggest that any youth programme that we may have will not be comprehensive. In jurisdictions that have national youth policies, any youth programme, be it employment programme or otherwise, must be the heart and soul of that youth policy. A national youth policy must take into account the economic as well as the political contributions of the youth. There has to be a specific and clear cut blueprint that will keep all people aligned with the vision of the whole country through the eyes of the youth. Unfortunately, we don’t have a national youth policy in Ghana to do this. However, the current political administration is working towards this.
Further, the modules under the NYEP cannot drive our economy to our national goals. In the 21st Century, every serious economy in the world is very competitive. Programmes like teaching assistance, health assistance, traffic wardens, etc. cannot, I’m afraid, stimulate the kind of growth we want to see in our economy. What we need are modules or programmes that will make serious contributions to the gross national product (GDP) of the country.
My final argument is that under the NYEP, there is not any entrepreneurship module. We are aware that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship are the drivers of the economy. They are the engines of economic growth. You cannot have any serious developmental blue print without the inclusion of entrepreneurship. The NYEP should have an entrepreneurship module. We need entrepreneurial modules in which the youth of the country will be encouraged and supported to start their own businesses. When this is done, jobs will be created, the economy will be expanded, and the country will move forward in the right direction. Until this is done, we should count ourselves out.