In the quest to enhance the process of national development, Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has urged young skilled Ghanaians abroad to return home to actively support the development agenda.
He particularly urged graduates who have acquired critical skills and technical knowledge from their training abroad to return home to assist.
“Our country is at a stage where we need all the resources we can have to advance our socio-economic growth,” he said.
Addressing members of the Ghanaian community in Russia, here in St. Petersburg on Friday after attending the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Vice President urged skilled Ghanaians abroad not be discouraged by the challenges facing the country and rather uphold the tenets of patriotism and support their motherland, irrespective of their political affiliation.
“You should not stay out and complain. What you need to do is to return home with your skills and knowledge and join in putting our shoulders to the wheel,” he told the gathering, which was predominately post graduate students, including those on government scholarship to study in that country.
Responding to a question about what job opportunities exist for graduates from abroad and concerns on reports of increasing graduate unemployment which contributes to brain-drain, the Vice President debunked the perception that opportunities for graduates were lacking in Ghana.
Rather, he said, in the wake of the expanding economy as a result of various development interventions, many jobs have been created while more opportunities continue to be created in many sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, agribusiness, information and communication technology, oil and gas, and the construction industries.
According to him, there was a high demand for skilled manpower for these rapidly growing industries which the youth need to take advantage of through acquiring the requisite skills and knowledge to secure jobs.
In spite of the available opportunities, he said it was also important that graduates pursued innovative entrepreneurial ventures to create jobs for themselves and others since the government and private sector cannot provide jobs for everybody.
In that regard, he explained that the government had created a congenial environment to support business and youth enterprises through the establishment of various funds to offer the needed financial assistance to the youth to establish enterprises.
Touching on concerns about a reduction in government scholarship for certain programmes, especially in the humanities, Vice President Amissah-Arthur noted that as part of a strategy to secure a critical mass of Ghanaian youth with the requisite technical abilities to support the nation’s industrialisation process, the government had skewed foreign scholarship in favour of technical programmes, while those interested in the humanities are encouraged to study locally.
“Why should the government offer scholarship for someone to come all the way to Russia to study African history when there are more qualified universities in Ghana that offer such programmes,” he asked.
In addition, he noted that the government has streamlined its spending on scholarship at the tertiary level so as to be able to invest more in basic and secondary education to ensure that more pupils progress from pre-tertiary into the tertiary level.
The students, especially those on government scholarship, expressed concern about the delays in the payment of their monthly stipend as well as the lack of internship opportunities in Russia, but the Vice President assured them of the assistance of his Office to facilitate the arrangement for internship in Ghana for those who face challenges.
In appreciation of the concerns over the delays in the payment of stipends which often result in a situation where Ghanaian Embassy staff loan out their salaries to the students to enable them to survive, he donated an undisclosed amount into the students’ welfare fund to cushion them against stipend delays.
Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry, for his part, also advised the students to be law abiding and focused on their studies so that they would graduate on schedule and return home.
He said Ghana’s growing industrial sector was abound with both internship and job opportunities, and urged them to take advantage of available enterprise development opportunities in the country.
Mr. Collins Awuah, President of the Ghanaian Community in St. Petersburg, in his remark, thanked the Vice President for meeting them, indicating that he is the first top ranking government official to have visited that city.
He gave the assurance that they would continue to be law abiding to protect and promote the image of Ghana in that country, and also appealed to the government to act on their outstanding concerns.
Mr. Andrew Meisuh, President of National Union of Ghana Students in Russia, thanked the Vice President and his team for explaining the issues and addressing their concerns, and promised to return home after their studies.
As part of the ceremony, the Vice President, on behalf of leadership of the student body and Ghanaian community, presented certificates of honour to members for their contributions to the development of the two bodies.
From Edmund Mingle, St. Petersburg