A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under this sun – Thomas Carlyle

In our part of the world, the issue of unemployment has always been put on the back burner and not given the necessary attention it deserves. Over the years as our population skyrockets, governments have always looked on either clueless or are just not paying attention to this time bomb. Perhaps the Arab spring that should have been a wake up alarm sounded way too early and was put on snooze by our leaders because we are still not conscious of this fast ticking time bomb of increasing rate of unemployment.

The unemployment rate in Ghana is very scary mostly because our economy is still structured around the colonial 3 R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) and yet there are people who still boast of Masters degree and the likes yet have been on job hunting for only God knows how long. The situation is much worse when we descend the educational ladder and come down to people possessing qualification such as Bachelors degree, HND, diploma, etc. As for the holders of SSSCE and BECE certificates the least said about their job hunting expeditions the better.

Sadly, the JHS system as the first terminal point has rather worsen the situation as year in year out more pupils fail to progress beyond this stage rendering them burdens on the society. The SHS system also comes with its problem, far from offering a solution. After SHS, majority of those who are able to pursue to the tertiary level will graduate only to spend a greater part of their productive lives writing applications upon applications.

Whereas governments have looked on either unconcerned or clueless at this situation, the unemployed must still eat, clothe themselves, and find places to lay their heads. It is this quest that has led to many people veering off to social vices like armed robberies, theft and most recently cyber fraud.

Spiral effects

The front desks of every organization are always inundated with letters from desperate unemployed graduates. In times when organizations advertise for vacancies, they are often overwhelmed by the huge responses they generate. In most instances, most of these applicants are left more dejected when they are not able to pass these cumbersome job procedures.

The unavailability of ready-made jobs has led to the exploitation of individuals by some organizations. Low conditions of service have become the order of the day as graduates get more desperate for employment. Some organizations being aware of the big pool of unemployed graduates out there have resorted to low wages and ill treatment of those they employ. It’s very difficult for those workers being maltreated to complain because, not only are they scared of being sacked, but the fear of starting all over again. No matter how bad the conditions are, you will still find persons who are more than willing to accept these worse conditions wholly. That’s desperation.

If there is one positive thing in these unprecedented levels of unemployment then it is the fact that it has made people smarter in generating other means of making some few cedis. For instance the executives of the Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana have in one way or the other being employed by the association. How ironic.

There is also the influx of employment agencies who have taken advantage of this unfortunate situation and are ripping off the unemployed. These agencies profess to offer jobs to people who are seeking employment, but what they rather do is charge processing fee for no job done. These acts and more leave the graduates further dejected and more desperate than before.

Women seeking employment opportunities are mostly at the receiving end of sexual exploitation by their prospective male employers. Some potential employers demand sex in exchange for limited opportunities. Most women have undergone this hell. This shameful act persists because there are no appropriate channels to address such complaints. It is also appropriate to note that the inverse of this true. Some women also exchange sex for jobs. However bad these entire instances might be, it all stems from the fact that there are no jobs and people are desperate and would do virtually anything to get one.

It’s time government comes out with a policy to mop up all these graduates churned out from our tertiary institutions. As a developing country, there is a major crisis looming if there is no effective policy on employment. We risk eroding the essence of education when people are not able to generate a living out of it. A policy on employment must be treated as a matter of urgency.

Source: Kofi Addo
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