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24.10.2005 General News

Discussants question definition of unemployed person

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Accra, Oct. 24, GNA - Discussants at a day's seminar on the informal economy in Ghana on Monday raised pertinent issues regarding the country's definition and ideology of an unemployed person, and the role in the gathering and usage of employment and labour statistics. The participants mainly experts in statistics and labour issues said employment was about livelihood of people. There was, therefore, the need to look at the objective aspects and not just the ideology, which tended to have external pressures.

Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, in a brief analysis asked to what extent Ghana and for that matter Government was interested in employment and labour matters. He said the State's role in job creation must be properly defined because it must have a role to play in employment creation. Prof. Aryeetey said there was the need to have a proper structure for data collection on employment and labour issues in the country using methodology and questionnaires that would elicit in-depth questions to make the data more relevant for policy analysis and evaluation. On the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) (Round 4) data conducted in 1999, he said many researchers disagreed on the variables used in the computation.

"We are influenced by ideology and external force, which are brought into our definitions of concepts."

He questioned the less probing-nature of the questionnaire used in gathering the data and said most people might have given misleading information about their job status and income mainly because of the way the questions were structured.

Prof. Aryeetey said focussing on the intra-household relationships during the collection process would help to present a clearer picture of the information.

In an overview of Ghana's statistical position, Dr Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, said the on-going fifth round of the GLSS had enhanced the employment section of the main questionnaire to collect more relevant information about people's economic activities. She announced that the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) would conduct a retail and wholesale survey in the coming year to provide more reliable information for some of the economic indicators. She said the GSS would also conduct a labour market survey soon with the collaboration of the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment.

"We expect to utilise proposals that would be made at the seminar to enable us to streamline the gaps in the labour market information system."

Dr Bediako said the five-year interval for the GLSS should be a thing of the past noting that labour patterns and trends changed quickly hence the need for regular updating to make the data reliable. There was the need for a partnership and sharing of experiences among various stakeholders in order to bring about changes that had been proved to be critical, Dr Bediako said.

Women in Informal Employment, Globalising and Organising (WIEGO), a Harvard University-based Non-Governmental Organisation, organised the seminar in collaboration with the GSS. 24 Oct. 05

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