One of the major challenges and disturbing phenomenon facing most young people in Ghana today is unemployment especially newly graduated students from tertiary institutions.
Every year, hundreds of graduates leave School in search of non-existing jobs.
Ghana is faced with 12% youth unemployment and more than 50% underemployment, both higher than overall unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan African countries. Despite major investments by both government and private sector, this challenge will intensify if job opportunities remain limited.
A 2020 new World Bank report titled “Youth Employment Programs in Ghana: Options for Effective Policy Making and Implementation” has identified agribusiness, entrepreneurship, apprenticeship, construction, tourism and sports as key sectors that can offer increased employment opportunities for Ghanaian youth.
The report, which has been described as another milestone towards addressing the unemployment challenge, also calls for more investments in career guidance and counseling, work-based learning, coaching, and mentoring to equip young people with the skills needed for work.
It is in line with this that Caritas Ghana, the Relief and Development Organization of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, is poised to tackle the unemployment situations of the youth in the West African country through a partnership project with Caritas Korea in alternative skills training for unemployed youth.
The launching of the June 16, 2021 virtual partnership in Accra saw an award of a grant of $54, 700 by Caritas Korea to help the Church in Ghana to train unemployed youth especially girls in different skills.
During their 2019 plenary meeting at Elmina in the Cape Coast Archdiocese, the Bishops of Ghana expressed worry about the steep rise in youth unemployment in the country describing it as “a veritable national security threat which has to be addressed immediately and urgently with a well-articulated programme.”
“We urge all stakeholders, the Government, Private Sector, Political Parties, Faith Based Organizations and Civil Society Organizations to treat the growing menace of joblessness among our youth as a national emergency and come up with practical and innovative solutions to relieve our young citizens of the lingering stress of persistent unemployment,” said the Bishops in a Communique issued at Cape Coast in 2019.
The Bishops noted, “The youth must take note of the changing times by being more creative and to explore the available opportunities to establish their own businesses to be self-employed.”
Launching the Caritas Korea-Ghana partnership in a zoom webinar virtual ceremony on June 16, Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Episcopal President of Caritas Ghana, commended Caritas Korea for extending a hand of support to help in easing the unemployment situation in Ghana targeted at the youth especially girls.
“I wish to thank Caritas Korea for their gesture of solidarity and partnership. I wish to thank Most Rev. John Baptist Shin-chul JUNG, my Brother in the Episcopate for his friendship. I accept, with gratitude, this grant of USD54,700.00 from Caritas Korea on behalf of Caritas Ghana and the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
He noted, “The Alternative Skills Training project is targeting unemployed youth; especially girls,” adding, “Youth unemployment has been a major challenge in Ghana and has been made worse by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Osei-Bonsu stated at the launch of the partnership.”
According to the Local Ordinary of Ghana’s Konongo-Mampong Diocese, “Many casually employed youth in the informal sector were completely displaced while collapse of businesses further threw many others out of employment.”
“The intervention of Caritas Ghana with the support of Caritas Korea is building on earlier support by the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Finance, to support vulnerable youth in skills training,” he stated.
Thanking Caritas Korea for the support, the prelate announced that Caritas Ghana will expand its efforts at resettlement and reintegration of vulnerable youth who are particularly displaced in the cities due to the adverse impact of COVID-19.
He also announced that Pax Garment, a Catholic Industry based in Sunyani Diocese, is a beneficiary and Partner for the Alternative skills training of young girls in garment making with Caritas Tamale Archdiocese as the other beneficiary where resettled youth have been mobilized for Plastic and Electronic waste collection.
“I am happy to make the first disbursement of GHc45,000.00 to Pax Garments to support the accommodation of the apprentices in Sunyani,” he said.
Pax Garments started in July 2012 with the vision of sewing Liturgical vestments and in 2013, the sewing of uniforms for Schools, Societies in the church started. Located in the premises of the Sunyani Catholic Secretariat, it has Sewing, Embroidery, Textile Printing and Flat Knitting departments.
On his part, Fr. Paul Sunghun Choo, Executive Director of Caritas Korea, said “every young people must have had hopes and dreams and I am sure, all of them are trying to cherish and develop their hopes and dreams with confidence in the belief, so call, ‘dreams come true’”.
“And yet, as they are, literally, fighting to survive in this given situation, their hopes and dreams are getting forgotten and rapidly fade away especially in the pandemic,” he lamented.
He added, “What Caritas Korea want to do with Caritas Ghana is not to merely give them(unemployed) funds but to support and help young people in Ghana so that they can come closer to their life goals with very tiny contribution of Caritas Korea.”
“As Caritas Ghana and Korea are now taking the first step together, it is my humble hope and prayer that Caritas Korea will be able to develop close collaboration and fraternal partnership with Caritas Ghana through this project and also I have every confidence that these projects will be great blessings for both of us,” he stated.
“I believe that it is great news for them to know ‘they have chance’”, he pointed out, noting “as a Catholic Organization, Caritas Korea wish them to know ‘Jesus cares for them.'"
Fr. Choo said through this project, Caritas Korea would now be establishing a blessed partnership with Caritas Ghana for the first time and pointing out that “Caritas Korea has not been able to expand its support in West Africa due to distance and language barriers.”