By the end of 2015, there were over 200,000 unemployed graduates in Ghana; and more than half of these were female. It is estimated that, in 2016 alone, an additional 71,000 or more graduates will be strapped onto the job market from both private and public tertiary institutions. Between 2011 and 2015, the National Service Secretariat deployed a total of 289,539 graduates for their national service. Out of this number only 5,000 were absorbed into the formal Sector according to the National Labour Organization. It is clear therefore that the tens of thousands of graduates that the various universities churn out into the system remain jobless years after the school, and life remains daunting for most of these graduates.
The grim unemployment situation has become so deep-rooted to the extent that even final year students seeking internships cannot find unpaid opportunities, as industries and work places remain choked. This graduate unemployment situation is expected to worsen since Ghana’s private sector, which is touted as the engine of growth, is under siege, rocked by astronomically high interest rates, and unfriendly macro-economic climate. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that unemployment will continue to rise in the coming years, as the global economy enters a new period combining slower growth, widening inequalities and turbulence.
The reality therefore is that Ghana’s economy is not expanding adequately to accommodate unemployed youth and graduates, and this situation will not improve in the near future. The problem will linger also because the agriculture and ICT sectors, which have more potential for development to create more opportunities for the youth have rather seen massive decline over the period.
The situation for female graduates is more ominous. Apart from the fact that the scales are tilted against them, female graduates are subjected to a myriad of indignities in their quest for gainful employment.
The only viable way out of for female graduates is to set up their own businesses; however there is little or no interest in that, on account of the difficulties involved in entrepreneurship in Ghana, particularly for women. Even when young women are able to attain education up to tertiary level, their representation among entrepreneurial workforce is challenged by a myriad of factors. The challenges young females face in setting up their own businesses are the absence of requisite training, lack of access to capital and the requisite support services.