The Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana (UGAG) wishes to congratulate Ghanaian workers for their efforts in pushing the development of this country. It is the collective effort which is exhibited with enthusiasm which is gradually transforming the country.

UGAG feel honoured to be part of this occasion to celebrate with the Ghanaian worker and also call on government and private employers to seek to improve on the circumstances of their employees. The theme for this year’s celebrations, “Ghana @60: Mobilizing for Ghana’s Future through the creation of Decent Jobs”.” is timely, because it comes at a time when college tuition is increasing yet it is becoming difficult for young workers to find stable, full-time, and decent jobs that pay well. We find this theme appropriate, because we live in a crucial period in which global youth unemployment is on the rise.

The youth who constitute the majority of the active workforce are the hardest hit in this time of our economic challenges and are more likely to be unemployed. Young women are the biggest victim making up to 40%-42% of the world unemployed. Global unemployment is estimated to be 197.1 million and by the end of 2016 expected to rise by about 2.3 million to reach 199.4 million. And additional 1.1 million jobless people are likely to be added to the global tally by 2017 making 200.5 million. This is indeed frightening and the young workers must stand and take up employment and job creation initiatives that will promote sustainable development and national growth.

Ghana faces a challenge for the lack of national data on unemployment. Our development is slow because we are unable to create jobs to meet the demands of the job market. Not only are we unable to do this, there is a mismatch between the skills of the unemployed workers and the skills needed for the jobs that are available because there is no data to tell us which field we need to train more people to fill the vacant positions.

As an association, our priority has been to assist students to be creative and take up internship opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge about the corporate world; at the same time creating platforms for graduates to take up opportunities or create opportunities on their own. We also engage university administrators on the need to create a direct link between students and corporate institutions, so that their training will meet the demands of corporate Ghana and also engage government and other stakeholders to create an enabling environment for doing business.

Aside the above, we do not believe we must be employed or create businesses to employ others without looking out for what makes them satisfied. Job satisfaction has a direct influence on productivity, and the young worker who constitutes a bigger percentage of the active workforce has a role to play. The young worker must have access to decent working conditions of service as captured in our Labour Acts 2003 (Act 651). Decent work is a key tool to overcome insecurities.

We therefore call on government and other stakeholders to invest in data and also create decent opportunities for the youth who are the bedrock of this country.

Decent work is a right and not a privilege!

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