A maiden delegates conference for the Youth Employment Division of the Public Services Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress [TUC] has been held at Kumasi , the Ashanti Regional capital with a call on trade unions to support government’s efforts at providing sustainable jobs for the people.
Addressing participants, the Deputy TUC Secretary General, Mr. Joshua Ansah, described the youth as the most valuable human resource potential for both economic growth and sustainable development of nations .
Therefore, he noted that the contribution of Youth Employment Agency [YEA] in empowering young people to enable them contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic and sustainable development of Ghana cannot be under estimated.
The TUC Deputy General Secretary however bemoaned the lack of employment opportunities for young people especially tertiary institution graduates by policy makers. The unavailability of jobs for such people put pressure on them which goes a long way in having negative impacts on their lives and the nation as a whole.
He further described the theme for the occasion which was ‘’ Ensuring Sustainable Youth Employment and Socio-Economic Development : The role of the youth’’ as very appropriate at a time where Ghana’s national development efforts has fared poorly in translating into job creation in both quality and quantity respectively.
The theme according Mr. Joshua Ansah also summarizes the overall aim of their struggle as trade unions in advocating for productive employment, respect for workers’ rights, provision of adequate social protection as well as the deepening of social dialogue amongst stakeholders.
Ghana over the last three decades he pointed out has achieved significant growth rate ,each single year with average growth of five percent. This, he added has also induced some positive changes in some aspects of the lives of the people.
He explained that per capita income has increased remarkably from about $ 736 in 1984 to about $ 2000 in 2018 , with income poverty also decreasing considerably. ‘’ Headcount income poverty has declined from about 52% in 1992 to about 24% in 2013 coupled with an increase to access to education and health as well as enhancement in the people’s standard of living’’.
In spite of the aforementioned achievements, employment elasticity of growth had remained extremely low. In 2013 for instance, employment elasticity was estimated at 0.47% which according to him suggests that every one percent of annual economic growth yielded only 0.47% growth of total employment , a situation he referred to as abysmal.
He expressed worry at the inability of the formal sector to absorb the growing numbers of the unemployed . Unlike the 1980s where the formal sector employed about 20% of the working age population, just about 10% of the working age population are today employed by the formal sector.
‘’This means that over 90% of the working age population are in the informal or precarious employment with huge decent work deficits’’. He disclosed that out of nearly 13 million Ghanaian eligible workers, only about 2 million or 15% have jobs that can be described as decent in relative terms.
Cognizant of the unemployment challenges amongst the youth, the government has since 2002, introduced a number of public sector initiatives to eradicate or lessen these challenges bedeviling the Ghanaian youth.
Among other things Mr. Joshua Ansah mentioned the Skills Training and Employment Placement [STEP] program introduced between 2002 and 2004, the National Youth Employment Program [NYEP-YEA 2006] as well as the current Nation Builders Corps[NABCO] which is expected to create about 100,000 jobs for university graduates, as some of the initiatives introduced by successive governments.
The TUC has consistently supported government’s initiatives in providing jobs for thousands of people especially the youth seeking decent employment. He however pointed out that per the TUC’s view, ‘’providing jobs in the public sector will not only significantly improve public service delivery but equally important is that it will signal to young people who have invested so much time and money in their education that education really pays’’.
Whilst the trade unions’ have largely supported these various initiatives, we ought to do more to ensure their sustainability’’ the TUC Deputy Boss stressed.
The maiden delegates congress brought together dignitaries such as Mr. Joshua Ansah, TUC Deputy Secretary General, who was the guest of honour, Mr. Joseph Debrah-Gyemfi, the Public Sector Workers Union[PSWU] National Chairman, the PSWU , acting General Secretary , Mr. Bernard Adjei and his deputy Mr. John Sampah.
Among the issues considered and adopted at the two day gathering were the 2017-18 activity reports, bylaws, loan scheme policy, 2017-18 financial statements , election of substantive divisional executives amongst others.
By Mohammed Saani Ibrahim