Most countries are grappling with how to deal with the problem of unemployment which is a major development issue.
There has been various approaches and interventions adopted by countries and agencies in their effort at tackling this problem.
Ghana’s major intervention in this area has been the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) during President J.A.K Kuffour’s administration.
This programme and the subsequent programmes of Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) and the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) implemented some interventions that did not make much impact on the unemployment situation in the country.
These interventions essentially looked at immediate stop gap employment that was not sustainable in the long term.
They were based on modules that provided immediate short-term employment and in some cases shoddy short-term skills training.
In the year 2016, the Authority in collaboration with UNESCO Ghana office, successfully trained twenty young people in the area of App Development.
This was to enhance young people’s participation in the Digital Business World. The program, though on a pilot basis, offered opportunities for the development of skills in the IT Industry for the youth of Ghana, and has served as a worthy and successful intervention to inform the current initiative.
The ICT Training Programme therefore aims at building a body of qualified human resource to produce quality technology driven products to respond to the needs of the market.
The Programme does not aim at offering direct jobs but impart knowledge and develop skills over a twelve (12) weeks period.
The Training Programme that involves Consultants in the ICT Training Industry and a Supervising Consultant will have Regional Training Centers across the ten (10) Regions of the country with each Region training an average of Three Hundred (300) young people.
The project is designed to equip the trainees essentially with digital marketing insights, skills, and ancillary competencies.
At the end of the programme, trainees will be expected to set-up and operate in their respective regions to bring their knowledge to serve and improve the trade and marketing environment in the Regions.
They are to identify entrepreneurs and budding enterprises and products with marketing potential and project them through the digital marketing platform for visibility patronage and sales.
It is envisaged that trainees will identify and take advantage of the enormous opportunities in their localities and beyond and secure for themselves sustainable good income through the application of knowledge and skills acquired.
As a country, one of the biggest challenges that confronts us and virtually threatens our peace and security is Youth Unemployment. Our population dynamics has the youth cohort in the majority.
The annual output of Educational and Training Institutions and other youth who become due for employment is increasing exponentially without the corresponding job openings both in the Public and Private Sectors.
The Public Sector of Ghana employs about Six Hundred Thousand (600,000) people, a situation our Development Partners have advised on as not cost effective on account of productivity.
Consequently there is a trend of employment freeze staff rationalization and down-sizing of organizations in the Public Sector that has significantly reduced the rate and employment capacity of most Public Sector Institutions.
Private Sector employment also has its own challenges due to economic difficulties that the nation has gone through, in recent, past coupled with the years of power supply, economic growth and expansion problems.
Unemployment is widely regarded as one of the key labour market indicators and a good measure of current economic activity.
If one uses the strict ILO definition, the unemployed population consists of all persons (15 years and older) who are available for work and actively seeking for a job during the reference period.
Thus, persons aged 15 years and older, who within the reference period, were without jobs but were “potentially” available for jobs are considered unemployed.
About 1,250,913 persons 15 years and older are estimated to be unemployed. Of this number, about 57.2 percent or 714,916 are females while 42.8 percent or 535,997 are males. Nearly one in six (58.6%) or 733,522 of the unemployed are located in urban areas and 41.4 percent or 517,391 are in rural areas.
In terms of age, nearly 7 in every 10 (68.8%) unemployed persons or 860,740 is within the youthful age group (15-34 years).
In urban areas, 72.7 percent of the unemployed population is youthful compared to 63.3 percent of their rural counterparts.
Ghana’s definition of the Youth as contained in the National Youth Policy of Ghana published in 2010 by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, defined the youth as “persons who are within the age bracket of fifteen (15) and thirty-five (35)”.
According to Ghana Statistical Service 35.9 percent of the population constitutes the youth (15-35 years), whereas 19.4 percent is found to be the population 15-24 years. Findings of the survey also indicate that 55.6 percent of the population 15-35 years lives in urban areas. The proportion of females (56.2 %) in this age group living in urban areas is higher than males (54.9%). (GSS, 2015 Labour Force Report).
Faced with this situation, the Government has to find innovative ways of getting the teaming youth of Ghana employed.
Mandated by National Youth Authority Act, 2016 (Act 939) is the lead Government Agency responsible for Youth Development in Ghana and among others is clothed with the responsibility of identifying and implementing interventions that will lead to the generation of employment for the Youth to reduce the rate of Youth Unemployment considerably.
The World is increasingly becoming a digital community or village where now almost all transactions can be done or are done digitally. The influence of the digital world has cut up with almost every sphere of human activity. In the field of photography the world was moved from paper film to digital cameras.
Artificial intelligence has made computer to become exponentially better in understanding the world.
Uber was just a software but now hosts the largest transport business in the world. Facebook now has pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than human. In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public.
There is therefore the overwhelming demand and imperative for Ghana to take its rightful place in the world’s technologically savvy community. According to the 2016 Annual Ghana Social Media Report, 7,958,675 of the population can be found online ranking the country 47th highest internet user. The report stated that the average Ghanaian spent not less than 3hours 30minutes browsing the internet on his/her phone, (CRIQAFRICA LIMITED AND ADVANCE MEDIA).
The Youth therefore as the majority of the working population and as the majority unemployed needed to be equipped to take advantage of the huge space and employment opportunities that knowledge in information technology and its various platforms and applications offer.
The use of ICT as a tool for economic growth and poverty reduction is a multidimensional challenge including socio-economic, political, institutional, and technical aspects. Its contribution to economic competitiveness and growth is one of its most expected and obvious outcomes.
ICT is attracting considerable share of investments, producing jobs, and increasing gross domestic product (GDP). It is also an important source of tax revenue. The increased economic role of ICT in a country will signal declining dependence on commodity exports and prices. It will also signal a strengthened role of knowledge and skills in job creation, entrepreneurship and economic growth.
The National Youth Policy Priority Areas 6.1.4 Information and Communication Technology provided ICT as necessary for personal and business success in today’s changing world.
The policy stated that the youth should be encouraged to use ICT for productive purposes.
E-Marketing and Digital Entrepreneurship Training Programme is an innovative National Youth Authority initiative that aims to engage a critical mass of young people to acquire basic technical skills and confidence to develop, promote, and sell local and International products through the digital market platform.
This Initiative seeks to demonstrate that programming mobile apps can be fun and requires different skill sets and ideas.
The initiative also aims to provide an opportunity for young men and women to be introduced to entrepreneurship and to create viable employment opportunities in the mobile/Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) industry.
The National Youth Authority from the standpoint of a key mandate to provide the youth with opportunities for skills training, employment and in the principle of “self-efficacy” is mounting nationwide outreaches towards youth skills and entrepreneurial developments with the goal to “achieve the Training of 3,000 youth, mostly the vulnerable and most at risk, influencing grassroots and local business by close of December 2018”.
This initiative is part of the process put in place to ensure that attainment of the goal.
Further, at a time when the world is looking for new ways to build peace and sustainable development, encouraging innovation and creativity of the youth it will be vital in effectively addressing these challenges.
As the global community works with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve it by 2030, this Initiative recognizes the significant potential of smart mobile applications to achieve the SDGs ‐‐ especially as the next 1 billion new internet connections will be from mobile devices in the hands of young people in developing countries, with Ghana included.
By advocating incorporating ICT development trainings for young people, E-Marketing Initiative aims at leveraging efforts geared to developing the capacities of these young people and raise awareness about the potential of mobile phones in everyday life.
E-Marketing and Digital Media Entrepreneurship Training has the potential to accelerate access to this vocational training along with informal and formal education.
It can help create a more practical and current set of learning tools to match the rapidly changing skills required in today’s workforce, building a new generation with the required skills and confidence to succeed in an emerging knowledge society.
Consequently, this initiative will focus on the training and provision of e-social marketing opportunities for young people.
SCOPE OF THE PROGRAMME
The ICT Training Programme is an intervention to provide technology driven Entrepreneurial Skills to the Youth with state funding. The Programme is especially targeted at the Youth age 15 -35 years with minimum knowledge in ICT.
An above average knowledge might be an advantage.
The design of the Programme provides Digital Marketing skills that enable trainees to get the attention of users of social media and other electronic space to source for products and services.
It will also provide beneficiaries with basic digital media management skills to optimize their marketing efforts, find new job opportunities and create new businesses.
The National Youth Authority (NYA) is the Agency with the responsibility for the implementation of the programme.
The NYA has been in collaborating with a number of organizations including District Assemblies and Members of Parliament to ensure the success of the Programme.
To Train qualified Human Resource to produce quality technology driven products and services in response to the needs of the market.
To use ICT as a tool for economic growth and poverty reduction among the Youth.
To train the youth in Digital Management Skills to optimize their marketing efforts and create new businesses.
To equip the youth with Digital Marketing Skills to enable them establish and run their own business.
The NYA shall institute a Stakeholder Consultation and Implementation Teams at the National and Regional levels to play an active and important role in the implementation of the Programme.
The Management of the NYA and the Ministry of Youth and Sports shall oversee the Coordination, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Programme.
The National Youth Policy provides a framework for collective action and coordination of strategies among Stakeholders.
Stakeholders at National, Regional and District levels shall be encouraged to position themselves as bridges between training providers and beneficiaries to ensure that local content was duly considered.