50% of University Entrants Choosing ‘Hopeless’ Courses – Ken Ofori-Atta

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has disclosed that an increasing number of young Ghanaians entering tertiary institutions are opting for programmes “in sectors with no or little growth in the labour market”.

Ofori-Atta said this when he delivered the 2021 Mid-Year Budget Review to Parliament on Thursday, July 29.

The review afforded the minister the chance to update Ghanaians on the depth of the progress made since he outlined the fiscal policy for the year 2021 in March. It was also an opportunity to inform the general public of changes in the government’s fiscal direction.

But speaking on the issue of unemployment, Ofori-Atta mentioned that the government remains concerned about the loss of jobs and opportunities for young people under 35 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This critical demographic mass which makes up more than 70% of the country’s population is the most vulnerable in these times as the government works to stabilise the economy in a global pandemic.

However, Ofori-Atta was quick to point out that “amidst this promise from [government’s] efforts”, there are “key obstacles [that] still stand in the way of the private sectors’ growth and ability to absorb jobs”.

“Prominent among these challenges is the persistent skills gap among our youth. A recent survey indicated that about 50 per cent of local employers report misalignment of or inadequacy of skills in the market. It also reports that at least 50 per cent of new tertiary institution entrants are enrolling in programmes in sectors with no or little growth in the labour market,” the minister added.

As a result of this realisation, the government has embarked on measures to strengthen the connection between educational institutions and the job markets.

Among these measures includes “revitalizing the skills development initiatives under Ghana Enterprises Agency, NEIP [National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme], YEA [Youth Employment Agency]”, among others.

The minister also reiterated that the government will continue to seek the input of the private sector in the employment drive launched by the administration.

“[A]t the strategic level, our comprehensive and holistic response to the employment and jobs issue remains anchored on the private sector,” Ofori-Atta explained.

Saving jobs

Ofori-Atta also revealed that the government released over GH¢520million to Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the business sector.

A total of 299, 490 firms were beneficiaries of the funds across the country under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP-BuSS), according to the Minister of Finance.

In doing so, over 740,000 jobs were shielded from the impact of the pandemic, which brought hardships to businesses globally.

This was done through the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), collaborating with over 80 business associations and key participating financial institutions between May 2020 and June 2021.

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