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Unemployed graduate – think about your pension

This week I encountered a young graduate who is looking for a job. That is normal in Ghana. This person wants to work in the public sector. In the interim, I had mentioned that the company I work for might soon have a role for ‘Frontdesk Administrator’.

Without even probing to find out what the job description would be, how much would be the salary and benefits or what the career progression would be, this person flatly told me, “Frontdesk Admin?… Pardon me, but naaaaaa…I wanna be part of the inside team, where the action is actually happening…Kay, you just made me disheartened.”

Without sounding disrespectful, this person’s field of study, as well as any previous internship and work experience, would not make it possible for the company to simply recruit the person straight into “where the action is actually happening”.

I gave the person some personal experience, but once I realised my advice fell on deaf ears, I got upset and shut out.

But then, this morning the whole episode got me thinking about Pension in Ghana, which is why I’m taking the pains to write this piece.

You see, for any young graduate out there, you don’t want to be a pensioner in Ghana without a source of income. We all know how tough life can be for you in a country without State social support by way of unemployment benefits or Old Age Pensioner (OAP) support.

The reality however is that, according to the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766), you only qualify for Pension under the following circumstances:

76. (1) A person who has

(a) satisfied the minimum contribution period of not less than one hundred and eighty months (180 months),

(b) attained the age of sixty years or fifty-five years in the case of an underground mine worker or a worker specified in subsection (2) or has opted for voluntary retirement with reduced pension, and

(2) A person who has satisfied the minimum contribution period and has worked as an underground mine worker or in a quarry or in steel works or in any other employment and is likely to contract industrial diseases as defined in Section 12(2) of the Factories Offices and Shops Act, 1971 (Act 328) by virtue of that employment is entitled to full pension benefit upon attaining the age of fifty-five years.

Qualification for Pension

In simple terms, you need to have contributed to the first tier of the Pension scheme, SSNIT, for 15 years or 180 months to qualify for Pension, unless you qualify under the exceptions.

I have heard in the media that some unemployed graduates have been job-hunting for 5 years.

That is 60 months’ worth of contribution to the Tier 1 SSNIT pension! If a graduate took up a job as a Frontdesk Administrator, never mind the salary and benefits, they would be contributing significantly to the 180 months required to qualify for pension.

So why would they stay at home, when they could use a low-paying job to contribute to their future pension and still be able to search for their dream job?

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