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Commercialise technologies to scale up youth employment

By: Ama Amankwah Baafi
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Dr Mrs Adelaide Agyeman, Deputy Director, CSIR-STEPRI (seated third left) with participants in the expert group meeting in Accra
Dr Mrs Adelaide Agyeman, Deputy Director, CSIR-STEPRI (seated third left) with participants in the expert group meeting in Accra

A STUDY conducted as part of a project to determine policy actions that will help to reduce youth unemployment has recommended a deliberate policy intervention to commercialise selected technologies and innovations that have the potential to create jobs for Ghanaian youth.
It noted that research institutions and universities in the country have been developing technologies for various sectors of the economy, but uptake of these by the youth was extremely low, although they constituted a significant proportion of the population and were more vulnerable to unemployment.

Dubbed: “Science, Technology Innovation and Knowledge for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development in Ghana: Harnessing the Potential of the Youth for Effective Utilisation of Technologies for Socio-Economic Transformation,” it is facilitated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR-STEPRI).

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is supporting the project that has these objectives: educate, create awareness and communicate locally produced technologies and innovation for the socio-economic development of the unemployed youth; and enhance the entrepreneurial capacities of the youth by facilitating career workouts, internships and industry engagement.

At an expert group meeting by the CSIR-STEPRI in Accra on May 23, 2019, the Deputy Director of the STEPRI, Dr Mrs Adelaide Agyeman, noted that high youth unemployment was one of the biggest problems confronting developed and developing countries alike and should be tackled.

She said the youth constituted the true wealth and future of Ghana and addressing their hopes and aspirations must be an integral part of our socio-economic development efforts.

“Youth unemployment and joblessness together constitute a major socio-economic and political problem in Ghana. They are vulnerable in society which makes them susceptible to social vices such as street prostitution, cybercrime, armed robbery, substance abuse, e.tc.,” she stated.

She said digital technology could influence employment both as an industry that creates jobs and as tool that empowers workers to access new forms of work.

Challenge of youth unemployment
The National Youth Policy (2010) defines the youth as those between 15 and 35 years. 
An estimated 35.9 per cent of Ghana’s population is made up of the youth, 16.9 per cent are unemployed.

Trends of national unemployment rate by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS, 2017) indicate that the youth are more energetic and constitute a significant portion (38.8 per cent) of Ghana’s population, and yet they are most vulnerable to unemployment.
Indeed, youth employment in the past decade have doubled or more than doubled national average unemployment (International Labour Organisation, 2018).

Again, thirteen per cent of junior high school (JHS) pupils do not graduate, leaving them with no skills, 40 per cent of those who complete proceed to SHS., and about 230,000 unskilled and under-skilled labour are turned out into the labour market every year (Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, 2015).

Research findings
Presenting the findings, a Principal Technologist at CSIR-STEPRI, Mr Emmanuel Jumpah, listed lack of investment capital and physical infrastructure, poor market expansion and development, value chain development and unfair competition and imbalances in international trade, as some of the factors inhibiting the utilisation of technologies.

He said coordination among various interventions aimed at harnessing youth unemployment was weak, despite the multifaceted nature of youth challenges.

“Resource National Youth Authority (NYA) to effectively coordinate and harmonise youth development initiatives. Entrepreneurial skills training and development should be core in curriculum development and a clear policy to access flexible, long-term, and low interest credit support to young entrepreneurs is critical,” he stated.