Unemployment in Ghana: The Crossroad for the Ghanaian Youth

Unemployment in Ghana: The Crossroad for the Ghanaian Youth

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The issue of unemployment continues to be the most challenging development issue that most African leaders: if not all, do grapple with. In Ghana, where the population is largely considered a youthful population, coupled with the high demand for sustainable jobs, makes the situation more frightening. Therefore, requires stringent measures.

Close to an unimaginable 57 per cent of the population are persons between the ages of 15-24. It is further estimated that over 300,000 youth complete their courses yearly from the various tertiary institutions across the country, that is, universities, polytechnics, colleges of education. However, out of this number, only a handful gets to be employed. Available data indicates that only 10 per cent of graduates get employed each year. This has further compounded the woes of young job seekers, who literally depend on their parents for survival in the absence of their dream jobs.

Seeking for a job in recent times has become a herculean task for those who are principled enough to control frustrations to resist the temptation of becoming a prey to the “sex for employment” and the “whom you know” canker. This syndrome has lingered for a very long time. It has caused many young graduates’ sleepless nights, even in some cases, depression has occurred, to the extent that some resort tsuicide.

Others must channel their frustrations into substance abuse. This has largely contributed to the hike in recorded cases of drug users across the continent. This unemployment subject is one that must not be discussed in isolation. The conversation must be done in a way that addresses other phenomena like; mental health, rural-urban migration, cross-border crime and illegal migration since such societal ills are mostly triggered by unemployment. The outbreak of the dreadful COVID-19 has even made matters worse. According to the  Ministry of Employment, over  11,000 people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

Over the past three decades, successive governments have attempted to institute policies that seek to mitigate unemployment and its impact. Despite that, their efforts turn out to be a knee -jerk approach, fashioned out as propaganda and political tools that are put in place to attract votes and to misappropriate public funds.

Against this background, there is an urgent need to address the youth unemployment phenomenon. In doing so, efforts to curb unemployment must be done in a manner that deals with the canker head-on and ruthlessly. Usually, policymakers turn to focus on the symptoms rather than dealing with the root causes. These root causes are often economic, socio-political and socio-cultural in nature, which requires deeper and broader consultations and dialogues.

Living without a job is a multifaced and multisectoral phenomenon that requires a broader stakeholder engagement in formulating practicable solutions and policies that are tailored towards actualising sustainable employment. Stakeholder engagement must be contextualised in a manner that affords educationists, government officials, chamber of commerce, youth leaders, economic operators and civil society organisations (CSO) an active role in resolving the issues that breed unemployment in Ghana.

To fully root out the occurrence and reoccurrence of youth unemployment and its excesses, stakeholders must take into cognisance the following questions:

  • Are the youth employable, that is, do they have the requisite knowledge and skills that the current job market demands?
  • Are they ready for the 4thindustrial revolution?

Answers to these and many other questions offer a greater opportunity and insight for stakeholders in finding a lasting solution: Solutions that put the current and the future generations in a favourable pedestal that brings dignity and reverence to the average Ghanaian youth.

Over the last 62 years, Ghana has overly relied on an educational system that, to a large extent, rewards students who can memorise and reproduce during examinations (theoretically) to the neglect of practical and technical education. Certainly, this form of education is unfit for purpose relative to the kind of graduates that are produced elsewhere particularly in the global north. If this situation is not checked, its effects will not only deepen unemployment, but it will also deepen the country’s continuous dependence on experts and technocrats from China and Europe in the construction industry, for example. who compete for skilled jobs in the country.

Additionally, government officials and financial experts often refer to the private sector as the engine of growth. If indeed that assertion is factual, then deserving attention must be extended to the private sector by providing an enabling environment for small to medium scale enterprises to thrive. Entrepreneurship is one major avenue through which Ghana can create thousands of sustainable jobs. Therefore, it is important to encourage budding entrepreneurs. Deliberate measures like soft loans, tax holidays among other stimulus packages should be given to young entrepreneurs because their continuous stay in business will not only fight unemployment, it will also go a long way to increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ghana.

Given that the youth are the widely acclaimed future leaders; unemployment certainly should not be allowed to be a part of the numerous problems that already confront them.

The destiny of our continent is not dependent on the abundance or the purity of our gold; but it rests on the dignity, confidence, and the survival of today’s youth.

About the author

Robert Oppong is a Ghanaian. He holds Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a speciality in Development Communication. He is a gender and a social activist with great knowledge in participatory communication, international governance and development.


Robert Oppong

Robert Oppong is a Ghanaian. He holds Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a speciality in Development Communication. He is a gender and a social activist with great knowledge in participatory communication, international governance and development.

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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.