Creation of youth employment in wake of COVID-19: Laudable initiative

In the wake of COVID-19 where many businesses in the country have collapsed leading to loss of jobs, it is refreshing to know that there is still hope for the Ghanaian youth, especially women.

An initiative by the government to create employment and income generating opportunities for 39,000 young people by 2022 is laudable as reports say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had adverse effects on businesses.

This initiative, by the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) in collaboration with the MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Project, a Canadian non-profit organisation was launched recently in Accra by the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo to address the issue of unemployment in the country.

It is hoped that the three-year project, dubbed, “Creating Dignified and Sustainable Work for Ghana’s Young People”, which is aligned with the government’s Ghana Beyond Aid agenda would help improve entrepreneurship, provide jobs for young people and also boost businesses in the country to improve the economy.

With a growing population, unemployment has been a great concern in the country. In a recent survey by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) in partnership with the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and World Bank with technical support from the Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA)), it was revealed that about 115,000 businesses in the country had either permanently or temporarily closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has also affected the world. 

The survey stated that more than 45,000 workers lost their jobs during the partial lockdown and those who were hit most were from the accommodation and food sectors. It is obvious that without any interventions the economy will suffer as about 770,000 workers of businesses had their wages reduced with 30,000 of businesses closed down permanently and 85,000 yet to determine what to do.

The intervention, therefore, would offer hope to the Ghanaian graduate youth, especially women and school dropouts nationwide between the ages of 18 and 35.

The agricultural sector is an area which is very lucrative and it is worth noting that the project targets the agri/agro-business, health, manufacturing, transport and education sectors among others under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Programme (YEEP).

With youth unemployment, the country’s security is threatened. The Spectator urges the youth not to allow this opportunity to pass by but to log onto the website, HYPERLINK “https://nbssi.gh/youngafricaworks”https://nbssi.gh/youngafricaworksas more women would be trained in the coming months and provided with start-up kits and other equipment to start their own businesses. 

As it was noted, the project had three components, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship (ICE), Apprentice to Entrepreneurship (A2E) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Business Acceleration which would help the youth (who form 57 percent of Ghana’s population), to unearth their talents, create jobs for them to live fulfilling lives and thereby grow the economy.

As these efforts progresses, we remind the youth to make good use of social media platforms to market their products globally, as in this era of COVID-19 there is the need for entrepreneurs to explore innovative ways to reach out to customers.

We commend the government for giving hope to the youth and further urge it to introduce more interventions to cushion Ghanaians.

The private sector, international agencies and well-meaning individuals should also intervene to help create more job opportunities for the youth, women, the less privileged and People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) to rid the streets of beggars.

The creation of youth employment in the wake of COVID-19 is a laudable initiative.

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