Associate Professor at the Department of the Economics at the University of Ghana, Prof. Ebo Turkson, has challenged government and various stakeholders within the job creation space, to redesign initiatives to include soft skills training as it will improve the employability skills of the youth in the country.
According to him, this will help in creating an effective workforce to address graduate unemployment in the long term.
Even though government is putting in place programs like the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) and One District One Factory policy among others, the unemployment situation has recently been worsened.
Professor Ebo Turkson spoke during a stakeholder meeting on Soft Skills for the Youth in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Ghanaian Context in Accra.
“We did a lot on scoping. Not many studies have been on youth employment programmes in Africa. So, whiles some of these employment programmes in Africa could be monitored and evaluated as project evaluation, we don’t have any research to find out from those that have gotten those interventions whether it worked. And you will find out that, those programmes didn’t include the employability of the graduates. NABCO, for instance is just offering them some employment opportunities. Are they being trained while they are there? Is it going to improve their employability from the skills that we taught them in the university. But I don’t think that is what being done. It is more of a social intervention to give them some money so that they can get something doing. But we want programmes that will improve the employability of our graduates because our employers are complaining that we are producing graduates who are intelligent and smart but for the job they lack the soft skills,” he said.
Prof. Ebo Turkson, also urged government to create an exit strategy for beneficiaries of its job creation programmes.
Evaluating the impact of government job creation programmes, Prof. Turkson bemoaned the lack of skills enhancement for the beneficiaries to make them more employable after exit.
Soft Skills for the Youth in SSA: the Ghanaian Context
The project which was funded by the IDRC, ILO and INCLUDE, used a randomized experiment to identify the most effective strategy for strengthening youth employment in Ghana.
The intervention introduced is training on soft skills and this was implemented using a phased-in approach. These interventions were targeted at increasing the employability of the youth and using a random sample of final year students from three universities: the University of Ghana, the University of Cape Coast and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
The intention is to rely not only on training but the sending of reminders, to test the cost effectiveness of relying on voice notes in ensuring that the training on soft skills remains critical in enhancing the employability of the youth in Ghana. An important aspect of the study focused on the mainstreaming of gender issues in the training of soft skills.
The result of the project shows that soft skills is critical in enhancing wage employment and not self-employment. The results also showed that the impact of the training, when complemented with reminders, is generally insignificant.
This suggests that the reliance on reminders as one of the best ways of inculcating soft skills cannot be ascertained. However, the project found a positive effect for the interaction between training with reminders
and the female dummy for both employability and wage employment.
This result suggests that females that received the training as well as the reminders were more likely to be employed or be in wage employments relative to men.