The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), Kofi Agyepong, has expressed his determination to put skills training and acquisition among the youth high on the agenda of his administration.
He observed that the absence of relevant skills among the youth continues to create high rates of unemployment in the country, despite the availability of vacancies for employment.
Speaking during the 2022 Job Fair in Sunyani yesterday, Mr Agyepong emphasised the need to change the patterns of “the country’s investments into well enhanced skills that will stay with the youth forever”.
“I have been asking myself since I took over the agency: if Tullow Ghana Limited asks me to supply them with 200 trained and certified electricians today, will I be able to provide them? If AngloGold Ashanti requests YEA to provide them with 500 trained and certified industrial machine engineers, will I be able to provide them?” he queried.
He also wondered if there are highly skilled personnel ready to take up opportunities if the Ghana Water Company, for instance, requests 100 trained and certified plumbers for employment today.
He recounted that he met an investor friend recently whose major problem had been finding certified mechanics who can repair his company’s excavators, bull loaders, and crushing machines at his quarry site at Shai Hills.
“Whenever any of these machines are faulty, it becomes a severe headache to him. He hardly can put together a team of hardworking young people to service the machines. These are the real skills needs on the grounds,” he reiterated.
Mr Agyepong also identified the challenge of how the country is gradually losing her informal sector to artisans from neighbouring countries, especially Togo.
“You want the best of masons to put up a building for you, you want the best of P.O.P done for you in your house, you want the best of plumbers to fix your pipes, and even painting, and you are directed to artisans from Togo because they deliver the best of these services….Have we as a country considered the quantum of resources we are losing as a result of this? Are we saying that we cannot train our young men and women to provide these services?” he asked.
He commended the Ghanaian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration (GCC), together with the GIZ, who, through the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, had been unrelenting in their support for the job fair.
He also lauded the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations for its continuous support.
“To my young people who participated in the fair, make that dream you long aspire to come through. Take every advantage of the fair and reach out to as many employers as you can. I entreat you to treat this event as just what it is: a job fair, not some sort of funfair,” Mr Agyepong added.