YES-Ghana, represented by James Anquandah, Communications and Mobilisation Manager, participated in a roundtable on young people’s employment aspirations and prospects. The one-day event, organised by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, brought together players in the youth policy development, employment and entrepreneurial space.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Nana Akua Anyidoho of ISSER, welcomed participants and encouraged the sharing of ideas from all sector players to ensure the success of the roundtable.
Dr. Jim Sumberg of the Institute of Development Studies, UK, presented on the topic, ‘Young People’s Aspirations and Imagined Futures’, which featured the findings of four studies conducted in two senior high schools in the Northern and Ashanti regions of Ghana. The studies focused on finding out what young people considered a ‘desirable job’. Responses on what young people considered a desirable job included if the job is formal, comes with a decent salary and is professional. Other respondents also consider jobs desirable if such employment commands societal respect. Respondents also considered professions such as journalism, nursing and policing socially recognisable.
The research, however, according to Dr. Sumburg, revealed an ‘imagined gap’ between policy makers’ aspirations and that of young people or young job seekers. The best way to bridge this gap, according to the study, is to either raise one group’s aspirations to meet that of the other or vice versa.
Post-presentation reactions added new dimensions to Dr. Sumberg’s discussion points. Contributions included the findings of other youth-related research that indicate that some young people prefer flexible jobs that offer sufficient time for other purposes. It therefore comes as no surprise that some young people seek employment in some perceived lucrative sectors as the oil industry to get the seed capital to start their own businesses that come with the desired flexibility.
Dr. Sumberg delivering his presentation
The second presentation for the day, on ‘Entrepreneurship: Research Findings and Implications for Policy’, was delivered by Professor George Owusu, Ghana Coordinator of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The GEM is a leading source of information and analysis regarding entrepreneurship and provides measurements of the entrepreneurial attitudes, activities and aspirations of individuals around the world. In the process of conducting the country-level, but globally comparative survey, comparisons are drawn between and among countries. Ghana was admitted to the GEM consortium in 2009 and participated fully in its first survey in 2010. The global survey randomly selects and interviews at least 2,000 people per country, between May and July in the implementing year and covers the adult population aged 18 to 64.
Ghana’s 2013 GEM survey was conducted in 43 districts nationwide with a sample size of 2,200 respondents.
The survey revealed that total early stage entrepreneurial activity in Ghana was high (38% overall), meaning many people, including youth, were involved in entrepreneurship activities.
In terms of active involvement in entrepreneurial activities, young people between 25 to 34 years were the most dominant group, clocking 41.8%, while those in the 35 to 44 year bracket made up 22.5%. Comparatively, with the exception of Zambia, Ghana’s rate of entrepreneurial activity was higher than all other African countries.
The survey also revealed some constraining factors for business discontinuation, which destabilised the number of Ghanaians that actively engage in entrepreneurial activities. Key among these reasons are financial support, unfavourable government policies and programmes, the lack of education and training, poor research and development transfer, market openness and sociocultural norms. Young Ghanaian entrepreneurs also indicated that their main sources of capital were personal and family savings.
The final presentation was by Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, Director General of the National Development Planning Commission. Dr. Thompson critiqued the standard model of structural transformation regarding youth unemployment challenges in Ghana and in Sub-Sahara Africa. His presentation concluded with the alternative models of structural transformation to be adopted in addressing youth employment challenges in Ghana, vis-a-vis Ghana’s long term development plan.