The Chief Executive Officer of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), Kofi Baah Agyepong, has appealed to the government to increase its annual budget for the agency to roll out more youth-centred programmes to create jobs in Ghana.
The YEA’s source of funding was capped at 67.6% in 2022 during the global economic meltdown which left Ghana’s economy in a turbulent state. In 2023, it was capped at 44%, that is, 23.6% below the previous year.
Speaking at the launch of its new module – ‘Youth in Garment and Textiles’ – in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, on Monday, 14 August 2023, Mr Agyepong said, in spite of the cut in funding, the YEA under his leadership still exceeded its 2023 projections by 18%.
“I must place on record that for 2023, the Agency projected to engage 71,500 youths throughout its programmes. I am delighted to announce that as of May 2023, the Agency has engaged 84,483 youth who are working and contributing to various sectors of the economy. This means that, the Agency has already exceeded its 2023 projections by 18%,” the YEA Chief Executive stated.
He added: “The YEA is poised to introduce other innovative ideas by creating additional 31,600 job opportunities for the youth of Ghana in 2023. But we cannot do this without additional funding.
“On behalf of the board, management, and staff of the agency, I would like to make a passionate appeal to our listening government to increase the financial support to YEA to enable us to roll out more youth-centred programmes that would create more jobs and reduce the level of youth unemployment in Ghana, which is now considered a national security issue.”
Under the one year tenure of Mr. Agyepong, the YEA has been able to recruit 6,000 Community Health workers; 15,000 Community Protection Assistants; 1,500 Prisons Service Assistants; 800 artisans for the INZAG Project; and still have 45,000 beneficiaries for the youth in Sanitation Module.
Again, the agency recruited 4,000 farm workers for the Afarinick Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme; 6,000 insurance agents, and created over 11,000 employment opportunities through the YEA Job Centre.
The YEA has also collaborated with other state institutions like the Building and Road Research Institute of CSIR to train 1,000 youth in modern building technology, the Ghana Library Authority to train young entrepreneurs across the country under the Entrepreneurship Re-imagined Programme, the Accra Digital Centre to provide ICT training for 2,000 youth in ICT, collaborated with National Labour Commission to sensitise the youth on labour-related issues and collaborated with the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) to train 5000 young Entrepreneurs (Trade and Vocation).
All these collaborations were fully funded by the YEA.
However, Mr Agyepong hinted that the YEA will be reviewing its sanitation module, which began in 2006, in order to give value for money.
“I must admit that much has not been achieved under our Sanitation Module. Government on its part has shown enough commitment by investing hugely into this module. We must be asking ourselves: are the cities clean? What about the streets and our markets? Are we getting value for money? What about our beneficiaries? How are they faring? Dispassionate, and patriotic answers to these questions will help the YEA shape this module as we seek to review it in the coming months,” the CEO noted.
Mr. Agyepong gave assurance to Ghanaians that the government is committed to creating more jobs; stressing that the YEA under his watch will strive to achieve the vision of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
“Although you can see ice on my face, there is fire running through my veins. I have sleepless nights thinking about that young mother hawking in the scorching heat with a baby at her back and sometimes one on the side. I wake up every day thinking about that frustrated young graduate wasting his talent as a hawker around the market in Kejetia all because of “nokofio” (Something small). Our youth are resorting to hard drugs and ending up as hardened criminals and call girls because there are no jobs.
“We can’t fail them. For how long are we going to watch on for the future generation to waste their talents? The YEA has proven to be the most effective agency of the Akufo-Addo government in job creation, especially over the past one year, and we want to challenge ourselves to go a step further to create an estimated 31,600 additional jobs before the end of the year. We pray for a positive outcome from the seat of government after this passionate appeal,” Mr. Agyepong noted.
The ‘Youth in Garment and Textiles’ Module is aimed at creating sustainable opportunities for young people interested in dressmaking or industrial sewing.
Under this new module dubbed a game-changer, beneficiaries of the training programme will be equipped with in-depth knowledge and hands-on training in various aspects of tailoring and dressmaking including fabric selection, cutting techniques, sewing, garment construction, pattern making and alterations.
“Under the programme, YEA will support about 40 large garment companies with between GHC100, 000 to GHC200, 000 each. The agency will also support 500 micro/small scale seamstresses and tailors with GHC10, 000 each to enable them to train the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries will also be provided with monthly stipends throughout the period of their training,” Mr. Agyepong said.