YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT: The Case of West Africa and Ghana

By: Richard Fiebor/, Ghana.

Do you know that according to the United Nations (UN) in 2017, 50% of graduates are unemployed in Africa? Do you also know that according Kelvin Balogun, the President of Coca-cola in East, Central and West Africa,  almost half of the 10 million graduates churned out of the over 600 universities across the continent stay unemployed?

Generally, the WORLD BANK also says that 60% of African Youths are jobless.


Unemployment is a term referring to individuals who are employable and seeking a job but are unable to find a job.

A lot of trained nurses in Ghana stay at home jobless after completing their courses in school.


Approximately 4.33 percent!

In 2019, the unemployment rate in Ghana was at approximately 4.33 percent of the total labor force.

In North Africa the unemployment rate is 25% but is even greater in Botswana, Republic of Congo, and Senegal among others.

Definition of Unemployment Rate:

The unemployment rate is the percentage of a country’s labor force that are without jobs but are available to work and actively seeking employment.


Government in 2010, placed a ban on the recruitment of employees in the public sector as part of measures to stabilize the economy and effectively manage the public wage bill. The embargo has over the years increased the rate of unemployment in the country.

The sectors which have largely been affected by the embargo are health and education. It has been rumored that the freeze was put in place following a directive from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A former Minister of Finance downplayed such assertions explaining that it is not a total freeze but a net freeze.

(Seth Terkper as reported by Vivian Kai Lokko


The Educational System:

The educational system does not fully conform to the contemporary economic concerns. It focuses more on theory lessons rather than imparting relevant practical and professional skills needed in the job market. (Read more:

Ghanaians and West Africans need more practical (Realistic) Education and Training

White Color Job Mentality:

The white collar job mentality is also one of the causes of graduate unemployment in Ghana. Graduates are made to believe that seeking formal employment in a well-reputed establishment is a golden ticket to being successful in life. This makes them desperate in competing for the few vacancy slots the companies have to offer. This is what analysts professionally refer to demand-deficient unemployment since the number of graduates is certainly bigger than the available supply of jobs.

This mentality may be contributed to the yet again, the defective system. There is lack of vocational support and training facilities needed to make our youth more of job creators rather than job seekers. The curriculum puts much emphasis on academic and bookish knowledge while turning a blind eye to practical training for entrepreneurial benefits. (

Corruption and Fund Embezzlement:

Corruption and Embezzlement of funds have also immensely contributed to the high rate of unemployment among the youth. Some of our officials are not very honest. They use public funds for their personal gains. The funds that are meant for development purposes in various economic sectors, end up in their pockets. With this trend, we will definitely never move forward- not as fast as we would love to. (


The impact of unemployment can be felt by both the workers and the national economy and can create a ripple effect.

Unemployment causes workers to suffer financial difficulties that may lead to emotional destruction. When it happens, consumer spending, which is one of an economy’s key drivers of growth, goes down, leading to a recession or even a depression when left unaddressed.

Unemployment results in lowered purchasing power, which, in turn, causes lowered profits for businesses and leads to budget cuts and workforce reductions. It creates a cycle that goes on and on and on. Everyone loses in the end.


  1. Government Must Design Employment Creation Policies:

Government already knows the Public Policy Process. Government must formulate the policy, adopt the policy, implement the policy and evaluate the policy. The government should design good policies that revolve around the firms, the households, taxation and so on.

  • Curriculum Change:

The education curriculum needs an intensive review. We need more active learning and teaching than passive learning and teaching. Active learning involves doing, observing etcetera and passive learning involves receiving information and ideas. Way back in 540 BC a Chinese Philosopher known as Confucius once said “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”. The import of what he is saying is that “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” This is the wisdom that our educational services must embrace.

Our educational systems are designed to employ us rather than to deploy us in the long run. Take a look at the Chinese for example. They are trained to be deployed and to mind their own business rather than to be employed. No Chinese persons anywhere in this world work for people for long. If they must work for some company then it must be temporal and it means that they work over there to acquire knowledge and skills. They are deployed to create jobs and rather than to be employed by others.

“People should be trained to have transferable skills that match the contemporary needs. Graduates need to be competent and highly skilled to the job they are actually applying for. Whenever there is a change in the industries, curricula should as well shift with the trend. Being static is what has caused many graduates their jobs-especially computer based.” (

  • Vocational Training

More attention should also be put in vocational and training institutions. Quite a number of unemployed youth are roaming around the jobless corners, simply because they lack adequate skills for either self-employment or working for a corporate. Empowering such people with knowledge, even though they may have never completed their tertiary level, would really aid in curbing this challenge.


“Brain drain” will reduce. Ghanaian citizens would be encouraged to stay in their country and contribute to nation building.

When government makes good policies that revolve around the firms, the households etc in order to tackle Youth Unemployment, successively the unemployment rate will reduce. For example, when government makes policies to reduce interest rates at the banks, there would be cheap credits for the industry; and cheap credits will result in more production for industry which will subsequently lead to more employment.

Again on policies, when we design business policies to cut business taxation, there would be more production and there would be more employment.

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