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Opinions of Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Unemployment – The Fear Factor in Our Youths

By Alex Bossman Baafi

No matter whom we are, where we live, how good we might feel, we all face situations that cause us to fear. One of such situations that are facing our teaming youths in our society today is lack of job opportunities of menial, half decent and decent jobs to put them in the position to face the future with hope and certainty.

In recent past we witnessed some pockets of the youth calling themselves NDC foot soldiers emerging from different parts of the country, braving the law with impunity and forcefully seizing public toilets, lorry parks and Toll boots for want of jobs. The fear factor in our youth is the current level of joblessness among our young men and women which is pushing them to face the future with fear and trembling and out of desperation, resorted to this unlawful, unthinkable and unaccepted behaviour. Probably the Mills-Mahama led government and the Minister of Manpower and Employment are wearing different goggles from mine and therefore do not see the fact that, youth unemployment and underemployment had become endemic economic, socio-political and national security issue serving as a ticking time bomb in the county which must not be grossed over.

What has happened so soon with our campaign promise of making investing in our youth a priority? Do we really understand the problems associated with unemployment and it’s far reaching implications in this country and beyond? We need to understand that the cream of our youth and mass majority of them are able-bodied but unskilled, and so joblessness, hopelessness, frustration and fear of wasting their economic life sometimes get them alienated to the degree where some of them are prepared to jump into the band wagon of armed robbery.

One of the prime and motivational factors that pushes the youth to vote and change governments, is to get protection against the fear of remaining in the squalor of abject poverty and under development as a result of joblessness. Sometimes we must reason that, fear is a natural and necessary emotion that helps human to cope with danger and helps them survive, this emotion and instinct is heightened in an administration subject to serious road accidents, crimes, filth, diseases, including HINI, kidnapping, unfair and unlawful dismissals of people from their legitimate places of work not to mention corruption and mismanagement of our key state institutions including the Tema Oil Refinery.

Fear and its potency has made it possible for our spiritual churches in the country always filled with young men and women seeking solace of divine intervention to make life worth living in this country. Productive man-hours are wasted for that matter because of lack of job opportunities as the devil finds work for the idle hands.

Creating employment for the youth both skilled and unskilled may stem the tide of unnecessary agitation for the removal from office of the presidents’ appointees, unlawful seizure of toilets; reduce armed robbery, broken homes, kayayei prostitutions and many social vices that have bedevilled our county today.

This is the responsibility of the government. Granting that the government has many competing national priorities in the face of limited means to meet them, she should tell the nation, the real unemployment challenges we face by moving away from spinning its propaganda machinery by saying it has created 1.6 million jobs with its since it came to office which eventually have proven to be a hoax. The time has come for the government to come up with a very comprehensive employment generation initiatives and plans based on revenues from our natural resources especially with the oil and gas find, in order not to resort to ad hock or fire fighting measures in future.

The point is that, the better Ghana agenda cannot be realised as long as the action and inaction of the government, current economic trends in the country and absence of youth employment plans and policies continue to keep tens of thousands of our youth without jobs. The government must take note of the fact that, the habit where most of the workers who were employed by the previous administration are being dismissed all over the country and being replaced with new ones of clannish, cronies and sympathisers of the ruling party is appalling. It goes a long way to render the youth unemployment situation hopeless and also make nonsense the father for all mantra that we here everyday. The only explanation given by the distinct coordinators for this strange and unacceptable practice is that it is order from above.

In conclusion, the government should know that one area of national life that is hampering growth is ill state of our physical infrastructure. It is an area of potential job creation for the youth. We can improve our infrastructure through labour intensive youth programmes like the NYEP which can create enormous numbers of jobs. Special preference must be paid to improving energy and water supply, irrigation systems as well as road network in the rural areas to create jobs.

Social benefit programmes like building of community centres, rural schools, health centres can also create jobs for the unemployed youth. Vocational training, attachment programmes, entrepreneurship could be intensified as part of our educational curriculum to prepare the youth for jobs. Serious efforts must be made for intensive work programmes whilst improving the business environment to stimulate economic growth. The private sector must be encouraged to support the existing induction programme in addition to apprenticeship programme, by government giving incentives to private and public corporate organisations that are business ready to employ the youths. In the urban areas, the government can promote labour intensive and infrastructure development, for youth groups, for example, to plant green grasses along all our streets to cover dust that we inhale everyday as we walk or travel along our roads and streets in this country.

Also good governance which includes greater level of transparency is a precondition for attracting investments. Anti-corruption campaign of the government must move from its rhetoric and hypocritical stage to more serious business of the current administration. Thus far, we need to improve upon our business environment by modernizing the way we do business, investing in infrastructure and public work, involving the private sector to support vocational training and attachment programmes and stop politicking everything of our national life, work harder in the interest of the nation by creating more job opportunities to give hope and decent living to our teaming unemployed people.

Email: abkbossman@yahoo.co.uk