Business News of Monday, 25 February 2013

Source: B&FT

GNAT proposes labour export

The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) is advocating the export of skilled labour as a way of solving the unemployment and underemployment situation in the country.

The proposal of the national teachers’ body, which has a membership of more than 200,000, forms part of its input into the 2013 budget statement and economic policy.

According to GNAT, government must seriously consider an inter-governmental arrangement with other nations to make way for the export of the country’s skilled workforce in an attempt to address the burgeoning unemployment and underemployment rate in the country.

“Government must be seen to be the lead agency in the sector by way of setting up at least one manufacturing plant in each region whose management should be based on public-private partnership.

“Another means by which the Government can facilitate job-creation is by exporting skilled labour.

“This can be done at government to government level to protect the labour rights of the potential beneficiaries. This strategy will create employment, generate revenue for the state, and also increase foreign remittances into the country,” GNAT said in its proposal to government for consideration into its economic policy statement for this year.

The teachers’ proposal to address the unemployment situation is likely to be seen as controversial, as it may be tantamount to supporting the “brain-drain” phenomenon that has been blamed partly for the shortage of certain critical skills in the economy.

Ghana’s unemployment problem is worsened by the fact that data on unemployment and underemployment are not regularly generated in the country.

Last year, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) reported that the unemployment rate in the week before census night on September 26, 2010 was 5.8%, which is distant from the estimates of authors from the Africa Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre and two United Nations organisations in the African Economic Outlook 2012.

The report estimates the unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 24 in Ghana at 25.6%; twice that of the 25-44 age group and three times that of the 45-64 age group.

However, the Ghana Statistical Service has explained that though its unemployment figure as captured in the published census report may appear to underestimate the degree of the problem, the figure is consistent with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) definition of unemployment for a short reference period, which was used in the census questionnaire.

“The figure may seem low, but to understand it you have to find out what question was asked during the census,” said Ebo Duncan, Head of Economic Statistics at the GSS.

Unemployment, according to the ILO, is among the biggest threats to social stability in many countries including Ghana -- where the economy has been expanding very fast but creating very few jobs.

Additionally, the African Development Bank has warned that while Ghana and most countries in Africa are right to be excited about their recent high growth rates, the paucity of jobs in their economies should temper the celebrations.

“The continent is experiencing jobless growth. That is an unacceptable reality on a continent with such an impressive pool of youth, talent and creativity,” said Mthuli Ncube, the AfDB’s chief economist.

“Creating productive employment for Africa’s rapidly-growing young population is an immense challenge, but also the key to future prosperity,” it said.