In 2006, the unemployment rate among Ghanaian youth aged 15-24 was estimated to be 69 per cent. Since the 2008 general election, increasing importance has come to be attached to tackling the issue of youth unemployment. High levels of population growth have not been matched by rates of job creation and there is a growing recognition that economic growth, even when it is achieved, does not necessarily entail job creation.
Several factors account for the high youth unemployment rate in Ghana.
Most notably among these factors is low economic growth which is manifested in low economic activity and low investment. This entails in overall low job creation. Given the sustained population growth rate with the population regarded as a young and growing type, labour markets are not able to absorb all the new comers resulting in scarcity of jobs which leads to a bias selection by education and experience as well as efficient social networks. Young people are at pains to position themselves in order to benefit from this regrettably unfair system. There is a disparity of skills in the youth labour market in Ghana, partly as a result of lower enrolment rates coupled with low completion rates, low quality of education and a failure to orient curricula with the needs of the private sector.
The costs of social and economic costs of youth unemployment are considerable.
The consequences of youth unemployment are severe. Unemployment has social as well as economic consequences for young people and the society at large. Unemployed youth are forced to find alternatives to generate income, including activities in the survival-type informal sector like hawking and in the extreme, criminal activities. The lack of economic empowerment and active engagement in social development generally increases the vulnerability of the youth to social vices such as armed robbery, drug trafficking, teenage pregnancy and prostitution.
the issue of rising youth unemployment nags particularly at governments in the sub-region and the greater developing world, because skyrocketing levels of youth unemployment fan the flames of conflict. In Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire for example, unemployed youth have been a reservoir for rebel recruits.
Recognition of the need to tackle this issue has been well established, for example in both the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) and the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy 2006-9 (GPRSII).
Skill and entrepreneurial gaps are evident in the labour market in Ghana, given the constraints with school enrolment, quality and relevance. Three groups of young people require support most in this regard. These are young people who are barely literate due to early drop out or inability to attend school, and those who have completed (a stage of) formal education but are unemployed due to reasons of quality/ relevance of education. The third group comprises young people who though they have acquired some skills yet need retraining especially in good management practices to succeed in the labour market.