The Head of Economics Department of the University of Ghana, Professor William Baah Boateng, has urged the government to change its approach to entrepreneurship to help address youth unemployment.
He said a transformational perspective whereby the youth would be supported to expand their business, and create jobs for others should be adopted to maximise the benefit of entrepreneurship.
“The implementation of entrepreneurship programmes over the years has focused on getting young people to start small business with no transformational agenda,” he said.
The professor was speaking at the 14th National Development Forum held in Accra on Thursday on the theme “The future of Ghana’s youth: challenges and opportunities”.
Organised by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the forum was for stakeholders to deliberate on national issues and suggest solutions.
According to Prof. Boateng, in the 2022 budget, the Ghana Enterprises Agency provided 302, 001 applicants with loans amounting to 523.1 million cedis under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme.
“This yields an average of GH¢1, 732 per applicant which cannot translate into transformational entrepreneurship for decent employment in the country,” he said.
Giving data on youth in the country, Professor Boateng said they were aged between 15 and 35 and constituted 38 per cent of the 30.8 million Ghanaians according to the 2021 census.
Last year, he said, about 19.7 per cent of young people in the labour force, were unemployed, including first-time job seekers, those who lost their jobs and are searching for new ones, and those available for work but are not seeking jobs.
“When we are planning for them, we need to know what kind of unemployment situation they are inso they would be adequately catered for,” he said.
He said the focus on youth was important because they represented the future and untapped resource of the country for which reason deliberate efforts should be made to address their challenges so they become productive.
Aside from entrepreneurship, he said there were untapped opportunities in the arts, sports and entertainment industries that the youth could take advantage of to make a decent income.
Contributing to a panel discussion, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Youth Authority (NYA), Nelson Ansah, said the breakup of youth-centred initiatives under various state institutions had not helped to tackle issues relating to youth adequately.
To correct this, he said all institutions implementing various youth programmes had started a deliberation on how to form a synergy.
The Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, said the unemployment situation in the country needed critical attention because many policies on job creation were not yielding the desired results.
In his welcome address, the Director-General of NDPC, Dr Kodjo Mensah-Abrampah, said it was important for the youth to be given all the support they needed because they were the future of the country.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR