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Stanley Writes: The Issue of Unemployment

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I started hearing about unemployment since infancy. It is a common language for politicians. If you’re a politician and don’t address the issues of employment in your long soothing speeches and with promises worthy of citizens queueing in the sultry hours for elections, then forget.

I strongly believe it’s not a matter of unavailability of jobs, but some factors hindering the youth to work. Yes, I know the government has a major role to play, however, let’s look at some of the issues pertaining to the topic which we don’t consider.

Relocation And Cost of Rent

Most job offers are not within the area of the applicants. Some get the offers but needs to relocate. It gets better if they have a relative at the location of the job, or worsens if the landlord is demanding two years house rent in advance – where would a graduate find about ¢2000 to rent house and still have some for starting work till his or her first salary – especially in the cities where most of the jobs are found? If you’re not coming from a rich home, or don’t get any good Samaritan to come to aid, then you have to act like the opportunity never existed.

This leaves such graduate hopeless and comes back to join the voices. Recently I got a job at Mile 7, I was at East Airport – Accra when I applied, and now in Tema, so I am wondering how I can take this opportunity. I can’t go and come everyday, and the only way is if I have what it takes to rent and settle right now – about ¢3000 would do.

The ministry of housing… Recently stated that landlords should not take two years advance rents, but you and I know this wouldn’t work for Ama Ghana. Our leaders just say it and go to bed, no enforcement.

Unfair Wages and Salaries

About a decade ago, tertiary institutions produce average number of productive workforce for the country. Much exposure to education and literacy campaigns made revolutions. Now, thousands of students completes yearly and actively seeking for job, “man has to survive”.

It has gotten to the extent that even high school leavers are competing with the tertiaries, which wasn’t the norm a decade ago. Then, as a high school leaver, you just wait patiently for your results and know whether to learn a trade or proceed to tertiary. But the economic pattern now has changed everything.

The gap between the labor force and work available is too wide that employers take advantage. They offer below-the-belt salaries for employees. There are no incentives or motivation, with the motive that “if you leave today, a brother comes tomorrow “.

I remember an interview I had. An employer of a renowned security firm who wanted a Personal Assistant, he told me he would pay me ¢400, I was confused. Wondered if he was just testing me or what? Instances like this make job offers unattractive. Who wants a job that transportation cost alone takes everything?

There are lots of sales jobs that are not paying well, they choose to employ high school leavers and pay them low wages than employing professional marketers, no wonder sales job is not having a good perception now. It came to a time I didn’t want to see any job paid by commissions – mostly you’re paid less than you deserve, unless you cheat the system sometimes.

Wrong Profession

During my second year in tertiary, I had a conversation with my uncle who stays in the States, most of his life. He said “I’ve heard you’re in the tertiary reading Marketing…” I nodded with a smile. “Is it that you have the passion and the ability or because you saw and heard people reading it so you wanted to join?”, he asked. I turned my face elsewhere, looking sideways as if that’s where the answer would come from.

He continued by saying every creature is created with some talents that should be identified or discovered and educated on and life would be easy especially if you identify it early. In the States, parents keep keen interests in the school reports of their wards, they tend to know the abilities and interests of their wards and eventually their career. Before even choosing a career they go for counseling…

He told me all this and I was hopeless. But I believed I chose Marketing for a reason. There are lots of people who finished tertiary before they realized who they really are and where their interests and abilities lie. So there are graduates who needs job and are not having the skills that gives them the desire and pleasure to work. It is one thing to have the skill to work, and another to have joy in doing it.

A father would tell son I wanted to be an engineer but I couldn’t, so you go and do it to make the family proud. That is what I’m ready to sponsor. The child finishes the course he was told do and there is no joy in working. He would wander about trying to find his own dream. How can he live someone’s dream? He would join the streets eventually.

As a result, lots of people are doing advance courses to change their profession. I know of a nurse and a chemist who are now customer care executives at my current place of work.

Others too choose profession that has no demand in their geographical area. Gone are the days where we were asked in church what we want to become. Everyone said the ” special”…and rewarded an applause. I was the last and I boldly said pilot, yes I have Geography background though. But then, what were the chances of making this come through?

To be employed, unless you pursue a career that has market, a demand by employers. Unless you’re pursuing to employ yourself, then pursue anything.

Companies now hire from different disciplines and train them to become what they want, especially firms in sales and marketing industry.

Un-retired Retired Workers and Ghost Names

Have you walked into an institution and observed a grown up fellow who is still a staff too? They have to lower their heads and raise eyebrows whilst still wearing “goggles” in other to see you well? They have hearing problems, slow at everything. Yes, they have retired per age, but some used wrong dates of births so by documents and law they are still working, others too if investigated, they are securing their positions for their grandchildren or relatives who are schooling.

You would be surprised the number of staff that would be swept off as retires if such an operation should be carried out.

Another issue is ghost names. Assuming an institution has room for 10 employees to be enrolled, and there are 5 unknown profiles created already, it leaves room for only 5 to be taken. So the other 5 comes back to join the unemployment queue and crusaders.

Lack of Entrepreneurial Spirit and Support

Our system doesn’t support entrepreneurial activities. And we does not like such activities either. We often look at the negative side; how long it would take to make it, the risk involved, no one to help fund project…and its true. Gone are the days where mostly everyone wants a white colour job. Now, its 60:40 with entrepreneurship leading.

People just wish to start up their own business but don’t have what it takes, the spirit to drive them through. And the few who are really capable and have even acquired education on entrepreneurship is having a hard time to start up.

I remember last year that the government has a fund where tertiary students who want to start up business can go with business proposals for loan with no interest. The only time I heard of this was when the workers are given the loan to only relatives and misusing the fund.

Sexual Exploitations and Bribery

I won’t say much about this, we all know. Before a lady would get a decent job doing after toiling on campuses all her years, she still has to watch the skies to get through. And as a young man who has nothing endowed to offer, you have to have attached with your enveloped cover letters, another envelope we often term it brown. It could be any colour, but for it special assignment, we all know it to be brown.

Employers are using their advantage to dive into waters they don’t deserve and pickpocket in a way accepted as norm. If you won’t give yourself, or you can’t brown an envelope, then join the queue to crusade about unemployment.

Laziness (Bad Attitude)

There are some unemployed youths that are just lazy. They have a reason to quit any job you would give them. If not salary, it a boss who doesn’t like them. If not a colleague hating them its the welfare department who hasn’t been fair to them – always a reason to quit a job.

When your attitude is right, the workplace would be a better place for you.
Some have opportunities to utilize, can even start up their own firm but bad attitudinal make up won’t allow them.
So we all end up in the streets chanting “we want jobs”. And for this group, I leave them to God.

Yes, I admit there are not enough jobs in the system. But if the few that exists are fairly utilized, and with some key factors just as explained above put in place, majority of the unemployed youth would fit in. Only a few would be out of the employment set.

Before the government would come in, we can work on these to ease the tension.