Gov’t approves National Youth Employment Bill

Some of the participants at the launchingTHE PRESIDENT, John Mahama, has assented to the National Youth Employment Agency Bill to provide decent jobs to the teeming youth and equip them with the requisite skills-set for the job market.

The new employment agency is targeting the creation of 100,000 jobs in five modules such as education, sanitation, community service and protection, health assistants, and youth initiatives in textiles targeting mainly ‘kayayei’ (female head porters).

President Mahama, who announced this at the opening of a two-day national jobs summit in Accra yesterday, said that the government was in the process of setting up the governing board of the new agency.

The summit witnessed the launch of the national employment policy document which provides a roadmap for sustainable job creation in the country

The document, the end product of years of collaboration between the Employment and Labour Relations Ministry, social partners and key stakeholders, recommends the establishment of a National Employment Coordinating Council to facilitate coordination and harmonization of employment creation in all sectors.

According to the Ghana Living Standards Survey of 2012/2013, the incidence of unemployment is particularly high among the age group of 15-24 and 45-64 as well as young graduates.

The experts say Ghana’s economy will need to create an additional six to seven million jobs by 2030 to accommodate the 250,000 new entrants into the labour market every year.

Beside the unemployment rate, many of the youth enter the labour market virtually unprepared in terms of education and labour market experience, making the transition to the world of work disproportionately longer and painful.

Consequently, the jobs summit, which has attracted representatives of labour organisations, representatives of United Nation agencies, and other stakeholders is to, among other things, agree on key next steps to facilitate operationalization of the national employment policy.

President Mahama announced also that the Youth Employment Support (YES) initiative was also finalizing its list of beneficiaries of the GHC10 million fund that was set up to create young entrepreneurs.

“These programmes are real and we must take advantage of them,” the President said, urging those who presented applications but were not captured in the current beneficiaries list to re-submit them because there would be a second intake.

Mr. Mahama hinted that government had initiated steps to improve pensions and social protection by amending the National Pensions Regulatory Authority law and revamping public employment sectors to perform their roles creditably.

He announced that the Labour Department of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations was to be to reformed and re-structured into a National Employment Resource Centre to enable the creation of a national employment and skills data base from which employers could freely recruit.

Such a database, would have a profile of people looking for jobs including their qualifications, he said and pledged that employers who patronize the data base would be given special incentives.

President Mahama indicated that the proposed $1.5 billion Tema port expansion deal with the Meridian Port Services, would not only decongest the ports but create 3,000 new jobs at the Tema port, just as the Takoradi port expansion had generated jobs for the youth.

Strategic partnerships were currently being explored to revive the Tema Ship Yard and Dry Dock, and other pioneer establishments that were put up by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah but which had decayed over the years, Mr. Mahama said.

“Restructuring and consolidation of the downstream petrochemical industry will help revive the Tema Oil Refinery; our focus therefore is industrial transformation supported by reliable power supply, access to credit and modernized agriculture.”

He said the economy was beginning to respond favourably to the fiscal and monetary measures government had adopted, especially following the endorsement of the country’s home-grown fiscal consolidation policy by the IMF.

“I am positive that the country’s debt sustainability and macro-economic stability will be restored to foster a return to high growth and job creation and to protect social spending,” he said, stressing that “these are core measures for improving performance and support of fiscal consolidation efforts and restoring investor confidence in the economy”.

He said the implications to the Ghanaian worker was that if economic stability was maintained and the positive trends continues, government being the major employer, would be able to increase social spending and improve infrastructural investment in the various sectors, especially energy, which would in turn, improve job creation.

He said the government would also be able to generate enough resources to equip public institutions and agencies to deliver quality services to Ghanaians.

President Mahama pledged that the government would vigorously prosecute the provisions of the national employment policy document.

Haruna Iddrisu, the sector minister, said the employment policy aimed to create gainful and decent employment opportunities for the growing labour force to improve their living conditions and contribute to development.

Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, described the contents of the employment policy as “realistic and achievable,” and pledged to work with the social partners to ensure its objectives were realized.

He, however, stressed the need to ensure that the country’s macro-economic and trade policies were in sync with the dictates of the employment policy.

Madam Cecilia Johnson, chairperson of the Council of State, noted that unemployment was a world-wide phenomenon and called for national consensus on a strategy to deal with unemployment.

Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, noted that the policy was as a result of painstaking preparation and pledged the ILO’s support to see to its successful implementation.

By Samuel Nuamah

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