Posted: Tuesday 6th May 2014 at 7:06 am

Job-seekers face grim prospects


About 80 percent of companies in the country do not expect to create any new jobs in the next six months, which puts a damper on employment prospects for the teeming number of job-seekers.

Out of 446 CEOs interviewed for the 2014 first-quarter business barometer report of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), 63.5 percent of respondents said their employment levels will remain the same for the next six months — while about 15 percent said they are certain to reduce their employment figures.

The low employment-generation prospect, according to the AGI, is a reflection of the general state of the economy as many businesses are struggling to remain on their feet.

In the survey, industrialists mentioned rising inflation, high taxation, the increasing depreciation of the cedi and the Bank of Ghana’s forex rules as having a depressing effect on their businesses and reasons they cannot create more jobs.

Inflation in the country hit a four-year record of 14.5 percent in March, while the cedi has weakened by more than 20 percent to the US dollar, the main import currency, since the year began.

In a bid to slash the large budget deficit of 11 percent of GDP, government has also raised taxes on businesses and eliminated subsidies on petroleum products and utilities.

These issues have been nagging businesses over the past year, and according to the AGI’s barometer survey, business confidence dipped in all major sectors of the economy, including agriculture, services, manufacturing and construction.

Over 60 percent of the 446 businesses surveyed do not expect an improvement in the business climate within the next six months.

The statistics give indication that job seekers will have to wait longer to find jobs. Although employment statistics are generally lacking in the country, a study by the University of Ghana indicates that 50 percent of graduates who leave the country’s universities do not find jobs for two years after their national service; and 20 percent of them do not find jobs for three years.

This is the first time the AGI is including the employment growth indicator in its quarterly survey that measures business confidence in the country.

“The reason we introduced this new variable is everything boils down to creating jobs, and I think that is the prime objective of government and everybody. And we get worried when we do not have an indication of whether jobs are growing or declining,” Seth Twum Akwaboah, CEO of AGI, told the B&FT.

“One would expect that when it comes to employment it should be growing all the time because the population is growing; people are entering the employment age. So if businesses are saying they are not going to increase the number of employment it is really worrying — to the extent that some are even saying they are going to decrease jobs. That is worrying,” he added.

The AGI has been calling for “drastic measures” by government to make it easier for businesses to operate and create much-needed jobs.

“If nothing drastic is done about the current situation we find ourselves in, particularly with the cedi depreciation, then definitely the future is bleak,” said AGI President James Asare-Adjei.

“We need to call on the managers of the economy to look at these things, which are the realities on the ground, so that we can together turn around the situation,” he said.

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