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Economist: Analyse employment figures with caution

A labour Economist and Researcher, Dr. William Baah Boateng, has indicated that employment figures from projects could be misleading as government initiatives may not necessarily create the number of jobs projected.

His comments come on the back of government’s announcement that it has created about 600,000 jobs.

Government released a list of outlining the number of jobs it has created since 2013 and according to the list, 600,000 jobs were created.

A statement signed by the Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, stated that close to 96,000 people have also been trained in several vocations which has enabled them take charge of their economic lives.

Initiative doesn’t mean jobs will be created

But in an interview, Dr. Boateng advised that the projections must be verified on the ground before such declarations are made.

Dr. Boateng explained that the initiatives government were rolling out would not necessarily translate into jobs.

“You cannot just look at a particular initiative and say that because we have carried out this initiative, we have generated the jobs. You need to go out and be able to find out whether that initiative has created the job you are talking about.”

Economy not expanding fast enough to absorb graduates

The growth of the economy is critical to the rate of employment in the formal sector according to Dr. Boateng. He admitted that government was indeed creating jobs, but said they were not enough to absorb the number of unemployed graduates.

This coupled with the slow rate of expansion of the economy would result in unemployment, he said.

“And if you have many people coming out of tertiary institutions and the economy is not expanding fast enough to be able to absorb them, you are going to have that… It is true that many people are coming out and nobody can say that there are no jobs being created but the jobs being created are not enough to absorb the number of people that are coming out.”

Tracking employment statistics

Dr. Boateng also expressed concern with government’s ability to track employment data. He explained that many developed countries had employment centers that registered and catered for people looking for employment.

In Ghana however, such institutions are ill-equipped and not well publicized, he noted.

“I don’t even think that the employment centers we have in Ghana, whether public or private, are well resourced and people don’t even know when you are looking for jobs, you have to go and register,” he said.

He further noted that the most effective way to monitor employment statistics was through surveys because most of the people employed in Ghana were in the informal sector.

The last proper survey on unemployment was in 2013 showing that there were 12 million people employed consisting of 88 percent in the informal sector and 12 percent in the formal sector amounting to about 1.5 million people.

This required that most employment surveys be targeted at the informal sector but this is not the case according to Dr. Boateng who said, “we are only targeting only 2 million people [in the formal sector] rather than the 12 million people who are in employment.”

“The point we need to know is that, in our part of the world, we can only resort to surveys and if governments are interested, we can have surveys every two years and that will capture the informal sector because it is only the survey we can use to capture job issues in the informal sector.”

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