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Opinions of Friday, 14 September 2012

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

When A Graduate Turns Carpenter

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah
Who says the bug of unemployment only exists in Africa and Ghana? It is a global affair, with even the so-called developed economies inclusive.
No nation can boast of 100 per cent employment for its citizens. Whatever the case may be, there would surely be traces of this social misfortune for some citizens to grapple with.
Some fellow compatriots try to leave the shores of our country for what they call ‘greener pastures’ abroad and later return home frustrated and worn out. Some even give up the ghost in transit when things get out of control.
A friend has just returned from Libya after almost five years of no gain with a self-constructed nickname, “No place cool”.
He now lectures colleague youth in his community against travelling abroad for jobs. Desirous persons visit the young man at leisure hours for sermons on life abroad. He is now busily using his acquired knowledge in mobile phone engineering to eke out a living.
He has regretted for throwing away those vital years outside achieving nothing. Unless it is for further studies, excursions or any official duties, the decision to travel abroad for employment has not yet been thought of.
Senior and budding professionals, students and even apprentices are supposed to meet periodically for exchange of ideas, skills, knowledge and competencies on various aspects of their operations. It can be done through seminars, workshops and conferences.
As professionals, every opportunity must be seized to learn from others. Let’s try to participate fully in all seminars and workshops available to us. The belief is that there is no one who is a repository of all knowledge so the need for us to share.
The recent writers workshop organized by the Ghana Book Trust in Accra was very interesting and inspiring. It was a two-day encounter which brought together some members of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), including myself, to share ideas on creative writing.
The main speaker was one Kevin Major, a famous Canadian writer. Apart from the rich technique employed in the presentation, his brief life history and philosophy was exciting and educative.
Though appeared unaccustomed with the African writing climate, the seasoned writer minced no words when he said, “As writers, we must not throw our hands in despair just because things are not going the way we may want. Let’s continue to qualitatively inform, educate and entertain our readers and the dividends shall surely follow.”
He said a bit about his family life by disclosing that he has three children with the last born still in the high school. According to Major, the difficulty of his eldest son in getting a formal job after his university education (majoring in English) has compelled him to go into carpentry for survival.
The whole hall was full of surprise upon hearing this scenario and this reminds me of how one Dr Maureen Iheanacho, freelance editor and translator, tried to know in detail the sort of carpentry the man was talking about.
He unreservedly told the distinguished House, “My son is into roofing and furnishing of people’s apartments and this is what he does for a living. He is not yet into writing.”
Actually, after the program, participants gathered in pockets to dilate on the testimony. Some even approached the man personally for further interview, to confirm the story.
I do not believe this story was told to derail us from the topic of the day. It was to serve as a breather but surprisingly became the main lesson for the day.
In this part of our world, hardly even a senior high school leaver would want to go into vocational/technical training and practice then to talk of a university graduate. This sector is usually seen as a preserve for the poor and the intellectually disadvantaged in society.
An unemployed graduate would choose to roam the streets jobless than to pick the hoe and cutlass and head for the farm to weed and to cultivate crops. Even the Agriculture graduates themselves are not ready to farm.
It would be war for any body or government to suggest to any frustrated, unemployed graduate to invest his/her time and resources in say, agriculture. Our youth want white collar jobs in the cities and towns and not farming in hinterlands, Aah!

Government and other stakeholders must empower the informal sector, including carpentry, masonry, joinery, blacksmithing, weaving and shoe making so that it can continue to support our economy and reduce unemployment.