Is the Ghanaian youth embracing entrepreneurship? If not, why? These were the very words of the President, Mr John Dramani Mahama at the recent Job Summit held at the International Conference Center, Accra – Ghana on 15th and 16th of April 2015.
It is an established fact that if the country is going to make any head way in sustainable development, Job creation must be the target focus. Mr. Divine Nkrumah, a spokesman for the newly-formed Unemployment Graduates Association of Ghana (UGAG) confirms that UGAG has, so far, registered some 3,500 graduates, with a potential for more as some 68,000 graduates are produced annually by the country’s tertiary institutions. He further estimates that there are about 600,000 unemployed graduates in Ghana.
So Back to the question asked by the President, why is the Ghanaian Youth not embracing Entrepreneurship? It is after all the solution to unemployment. Luckily for him I am more than willing to give some reasons. Perhaps it is the lack of funds to begin any kind of business. Without funds, it is now literally impossible to begin anything in this economy. It is common knowledge that the youth do not save much and are 90% of the time, not eligible for loans. There seems to be a little to no way out on this particular issue of funds but it must be dealt with.
Perhaps it could also be the lack of Basic Skills needed to start a business few of which are leadership skills, Public speaking skills or even just how to read a financial statement. Certain skills are a must have for an entrepreneur because one may have all the resources in the world but lacking such skills for sustainability, any business is likely to collapse.
Or perhaps it is the lack of Business literacy or start-up support. I could go on and on. It is about time opportunities are created for the Ghanaian youth to maximize their full potential and create their own wealth instead of waiting for governments to offer them ‘white collar jobs’ which are mostly non-existing in Ghana.
Unfortunately, in Ghana and in most African countries, there is no collaboration between education and industry. Some graduates come out of universities and cannot write application letters let alone proposals to enable them to source for funding to start up their own businesses. Some of them also perform so well in their academics but perform woefully in the job market. As a result, those in the business community who fail to invest in education but want to reap where they have not sown complain that graduates lately are undeforming which to me is hypocrisy at the hghest level. It is about time corporate bodies cut down their investment in beauty pageants and entertainment events (concerts) and redirect it to develop the education sector.
Believe it or not, Entrepreneurship is “the” key to employment generation in Ghana. After almost three years in office, the major challenge facing the ruling government is employment generation for the youth of the country who have come together to form for the first time in the country’s history Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana (UGAG) with the aim of pressing upon the government to create jobs for the youth.
Presenting the 2012 budget to parliament, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning assured that “the National Youth Employment Programme aims at recruiting some 692,000 people under its 15 modules and projects, and create 500,000 new jobs over the next four years” (we are now in the seventh year) adding “Government will support the establishment of the Ghana Centre for Entrepreneurship Employment and Innovation (GCEEI)” to offer entrepreneurship training to the youth to be able to create their own jobs.
Now is the time for our leaders to make real the rhetoric and promises of yesteryears into action for the total development of our youth. Now is the time to link academia with industry so that students can get practical training while pursuing their programmes. By so doing, they will attain practical skills and by the time they come out of school, they would have been able to create their own jobs instead of depending on the government.
It is therefore imperative for our educational institutions to introduce entrepreneurship training modules as part of their curricula to train students on how to create their own wealth and employ others in their businesses.
In the words of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and BBC’s African Personality of the Millennium, “If we do not approach the problems in Africa with a common front and a common purpose, we shall be haggling and wrangling among ourselves until we are colonized again and become the tools of a far greater colonialism than we suffered hitherto”.
I am imploring that the Government take a stand on this issue, are they for it or against it because only then will the youth take a stand too.
Written by: Sally Bagson