The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has announced the establishment of a GH¢50 million fund to address graduate unemployment in the country.
The fund is to be used to stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation among unemployed graduates next year.
He made the announcement when he presented the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy Statement of the government to Parliament last Wednesday.
The budget was on the theme, “Putting Ghana back to work.”
The minister said the fund was to serve as a supportive ecosystem for young and potential entrepreneurs to establish or expand their businesses, which would then help resolve unemployment problems in the country.
In addition to the GH¢50 million, Mr Ofori-Atta said the government had decided to use about US$100 million of International Development Assistance (IDA) credits to support labour and job creation in 2018.
Another US$150 million of the IDA credit would also be dedicated to entrepreneurship and industrialisation, he added.
He observed that youth unemployment, particularly graduate unemployment, was the most critical economic problem facing the government.
Inspiring entrepreneurial spirit
Quoting from the Institute of Statistics, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), the minister said available data showed that as of March this year, only 10 per cent of graduates found jobs after their national service.
For those unemployed after the mandatory service period, the ISSER data said, “It could take up to 10 years for a large number of them to secure employment.”
While it poses a challenge to the economy, the minister said the development was a reflection of the lack of employable skills, unavailability of funding capital for entrepreneurship, as well as low capacity of industry to absorb the huge numbers in the country.
“The theme for this budget was, therefore, carefully chosen to reflect our own aspiration of igniting an entrepreneurial spirit within every Ghanaian and motivating them to go out to work and earn a living and improve their lives.
“We plan on providing opportunity for as many Ghanaians as possible to initiate projects on their own,” he added.
The finance minister noted that although several transition programmes to reduce unemployment had been implemented under various government institutions and agencies, “their focus was mainly on the non-tertiary graduates”.
”With this background, our government has proposed a new job programme - the Nation Builders Corps (NBC) - to focus on graduate unemployment,” he said.
He explained that the NBC programme was a major government initiative to provide employment to unemployed graduates, improve skills and employability, improve public service delivery and improve government revenue mobilisation, which addresses livelihood empowerment to solve economic and social problems.
“The focus of the initiative will be solving public service delivery in health, education, agriculture and sanitation to drive revenue mobilisation and collection,” he added. — GB