The Youth Employment Agency (YEA) In Perspective

Justin Frimpong Kodua

BACKGROUND

The Youth Employment Agency YEA initially began as the National Youth Employment Programme NYEP in October 2006 in response to national security threat posed by the staggering statistics of unemployed Ghanaian youth across the country. That revelation followed a nationwide registration of all unemployed Ghanaian youth in 2003 by the then Kufour Administration to assess the extent of the menace to proffer solutions. Following the launch of the NYEP as a stop gap measure a number of employment modules were created and rolled out as a stop-gap measure to mitigate the suffering of the youth and to cushion guardians from the extra financial burden imposed by the inability of their wards to secure job in the economy. Social Intervention modules such as the Graduate Paid Internship and Industrial Attachment, Youth in Waste and Sanitation, Community Health Workers (CHWs), Community Education Teaching Assistants (CETA), Community Policing Assistants CPAs, Youth in Agriculture, Youth in Information Communication Technology ICT) were rolled out and at the end of the tenure of the Kufour Administration, an estimated 106,000 youth were engaged across the modules implemented. The National Democratic Congress NDC Administration under the late Professor J.E.A.Mills and later John Mahama administration reviewed the operations by introducing new modules like Youth in Coastal Protection, Youth in Water Bodies Protection, Youth in Youth in Coastal Sanitation, the Arabic Instructors Module and Youth in Basket Weaving etc.

In their bid to introduce entrepreneurship into the Programme, the NYEP was transformed into the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) but without any legal framework to guide its operations. Following the malfeasance that rocked the Agency in what later came to be known as the GYEEDA Scandal, the Ministerial Committee setup by the Government to conduct investigation into the scandal came up with a report with far reaching recommendations including giving a legal backing to the Agency.

LEGAL BACKING FOR YEA

The outcome was the birth of the Youth Employment Agency following Cabinet and Parliamentary Approval for a legal instrument to back its operations in 2015.Thus the YEA came into existence under the Youth Employment Act 2015, (Act 887) with the mandate to empower the youth between the ages of 15-35 years through jobs creation to enable them to contribute meaningfully to the sustainable socio-economic development of the nation.

CORE MANDATE AND MISSION/VISION STATEMENTS

The core mandate of the YEA is to oversee the development, co-ordination supervision and facilitation of employment for the youth and related matters in Ghana.

The YEA Mission is to lead the co-ordination of employment opportunities and the creation of jobs for the youth in Ghana. The Vision is to be an outstanding Public Sector Agency facilitating and creating sustainable employment opportunities for the youth nationwide. As at the end of 2016, an estimated total number of YEA Beneficiaries on the traditional modules under the previous regime stood at 65,000 youth across all the modules.

REVIEW OF YEA MANDATE

Coming into office of the Akufo-Addo government in 2017, the new Management conducted an operational review of the mandate and programmes of the Agency and was convinced of the need to realign the operations of the Agency towards creating and facilitating sustainable job opportunities for the youth. This approach followed the realisation that lack of exit plans for the traditional modules rolled-out was culminating in what can be termed as a recycle of unemployment among the youth.

NEW POLICY DIRECTION

Thus, the new Management changed the policy direction of the Agency with introduction of four new initiatives aimed at providing sustainable employment opportunities and jobs creation for the youth.

The four flagship projects to serve as the game changer are the YEA Job Centre, Artisans Directory, Agro-based Regional and District Flagship Projects and the Work Abroad Project.

YEA JOB CENTRE

These projects were together launched on the 2nd October 2019 by His Excellency the Vice –President of the Republic, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. The Job Centre being the main flagship project was poised to make great impact in the employment and recruitment space. However, it suffered a setback as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic just as it was on its heels to take off. Notwithstanding the impediment, the Job Centre has been operational and chalked up some successes. For example, the YEA Job Centre has provided some Ghanaian youth with sustainable employment opportunities by facilitating employment for 1012 youth as at the last quarter of 2021.Within the same period, an estimated 543 companies have signed up on the online portal and 120 companies have outsourced their recruitment to the YEA Job Centre.

Delegations from sister African Countries like Republic of Burkina Faso, Kingdom of Lesotho and the government of Malawi have paid working visit to the country to understudy the YEA Job Centre concept to replicate same in their respective countries.

To create public awareness about its readiness to make impact as the game changer on youth employment, the Job Centre recently organised the first ever maiden Job Fair in the country that attracted thousands of the unemployed youth in attendance. The essence is to directly link job seekers to employers for instant job placement. The Centre has spread its tentacles further to reach out to job seekers in other parts of the country by organising Regional Jobs and Entrepreneurship Fairs in partnership with the private sector across four regions of the country namely Ashanti, Western Eastern and the Northern region.

ARTISAN DIRECTORY

The informal sector is currently estimated at $34 Billion per year indisputably the second largest employer in developing countries after Agriculture according to Indego Africa (2016). In view of the fact that the informal sector employs a large number of a given youthful population with skilled labour, the YEA Management mooted the idea of the YEA Artisan Directory to support majority of the Ghanaian youth who found themselves in the informal sector of the economy to gain sustainable means of livelihood and income. The Directory is at an advanced stage of implementation having already been advertised and the portal opened for mass registration of Mastercraft men and women to serve as trainers of trainees / apprentices. This is a marketing facilitation tool to help the trained artisans with sustainable source of income and livelihood. The Programme is being piloted in the construction industry and would eventually be scaled up to include all artisanal areas and expected to recruit at least 200,000 youth by the end of 2023.

REGIONAL FLAGSHIP PROJECTS

The Agro-based Regional Flagship Projects look at comparable advantage of each region in terms of raw material production to feed the industries especially under the One District One Factory Initiative of the Government. It promises to provide a sustainable source of income and employment for the youth in the various regions of the country. For example, the YEA has acquired a 1000 -acre maize farming land at Wenchi Brenam in the Bono region. Out of the size, 250 acres have been cultivated and planting has started. The essence is to sell the farm yields to the Buffer Stock Company for the Ghana School Feeding Project. The YEA has also an Aquaculture fish farm at Ho, in the Volta region. The other regions have submitted feasibility studies on the projects earmarked to be undertaken and are still at the consideration stage by the Management.

WORK ABROAD PROJECT

The Work Abroad Project is a YEA initiative to help streamline the documentation and formalisation of Ghanaians with the desire to work abroad through the support of the government. The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations has drafted a labour Migration Policy in that regard and is currently working on the legal framework.

NEWLY-CREATED REGIONAL OFFICES

Following the creation of the six new regions of the country, the Agency has taken steps to construct Regional Offices for the new regions. Construction work has already started for each of the new regions.

The Management has also expanded and refurbished the head office to accommodate the requisite staff to manage the Agency.

PARTNERSHIP WITH UNIJAY

The Agency in the course of the year entered into a joint partnership with UNIJAY, a garment manufacturing company to train 400 youth in garment and textile manufacturing under the garment module in Kumasi