Researchers raise concern over ineffective exit strategies in youth employment programmes

Although governments have allocated large amount of resources in implementing programmes to address youth unemployment, lack of effective “exit strategies,” have rendered such interventions ineffective in solving youth unemployment challenges in the country, research findings have shown.

Sharing the findings at a validation workshop in Accra on Tuesday, a member of the research team, Dr Thomas Yeboah of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said the exit strategies did not lead young people to acquire decent and permanent jobs.

Notwithstanding the challenges, findings have shown that the programmes had offered the youth skills training, job placement matching, seed capital to start businesses and subsidies. 

The findings further showed that, the programmes were used by governments “as political tool to achieve specific objectives,” and that the implementation of the programmes were fraught with interference from “powerful people” in society, lack of adequate resources to upscale, delay in payment of allowances and lack of impact evaluation.

The study, “Empirical Review of Youth Employment Programmes in Ghana” employed both secondary and primary data to research into seven public youth employment programmes: Youth Employment modules under the Youth Employment Agency, the National Builders Corp, National Service Scheme, National Entreprenuerialship and Innovation Programmes, Youth in Agriculture, Afforestation and Agribusiness.

The objective of the study carried by researchers from KNUST and University of Ghana (UG), Department of Economics with support from MasterCard Foundation, was to provide comprehensive description of the major public youth employment programmes from 200-2022, and identify, document the impact and implementation gaps.

The validation workshop was expected to feed into key lessons and opportunities from the study to inform youth employment programme review towards sustainable and decent jobs for the youth.

This is against the background of 19.7 per cent unemployment rate among the population of the young people (15-35) in Ghana’s population of 30.8 million, according to the 2021 population and housing census.

About 250,000 young people enter the labour market in Ghana yearly, according to the Institute of Statistical and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana.

Population scientists have expressed the need to harness the “demographic dividend” window of opportunity in Ghana’s youthful population through quality education and skills training for rapid socioeconomic development, or the country risk security threat from idle hands.

The Lead Researcher, Dr Monica Lambon-Quayefio, Department of Economic, UG in presenting a contextual background to the research said young people were entering the job market at a time when employment opportunities were not enough to absorb saying “unemployment is very dire.”

She said most young people did not have the skills to function well in the job market adding “they do not have the skills to search for jobs, if they have the technical skills, they do not know how to present themselves in the market.”

Dr Lambon-Quayefio lauded the interventions to address youth unemployment but was quick to add that “some have work, others have not.”


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