Unemployment plummets as effects of Free SHS filter through Featured

By ISABELLA AGYAKWA August 16, 2019 1750 667 comments

The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has announced that the unemployment rate in Ghana, which stood at 11.9 per cent in 2015, has fallen by 3.6 percentage points to 7.1 per cent in 2019.

He attributes the significant decline to the introduction of the Free Senior High School policy by the Akufo-Addo government.

Not adding to number

Explaining the correlation between unemployment and Free SHS, the Minister noted that the working age for the country is 15 and above.

He said at that age a child has finished his or her junior high school (JHS) education, thus the policy absorbs about 90,000 young people who otherwise naturally would have joined the unemployment bracket, as the statistics show.

“I have figures from the Ministry of Education which indicate that but for Free SHS, every year would see some 90,000 persons cut off from their education after the JHS.

“All these people would either have learned some trade or would not even work at all, and it would have added up to the number.

“… the bracket of unemployed persons which takes away the bracket of children in school would have been bigger if these 90,000 a year were not enrolled in school,” Mr Baffour Awuah said.


The Minister made these facts known when his department took its turn at Meet the Press at the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday.

He said a total of 11.6 million Ghanaians, representing 63 per cent of the working-age population, are in different types of employment, and 1.14 million people, about 6 per cent of the population, “are working in their own quiet corners” and are therefore not considered to be in employment in a sense that fits the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of employment.

The remaining 5.36 million people are not working because they are in school, or incapacitated, or confined to domestic activities, or unemployed.

Job creation

The Employment and Labour Relations Minister also said the government created roughly 611,397 new jobs in the formal sector between 2017 and 2019.

Giving the breakdown of jobs, he said that in the period under review 343,458 jobs were created by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) while 267,939 jobs were created by the formal private sector.

“In addition to these new jobs in the formal sector, the ever-famous Planting for Food and Jobs programme is estimated to have created 1,539,000 million jobs from 2017 to date,” he said.

Social protection

On pensions, the Minister announced the payment of a total of GHC3.1 billion under the Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) into custodian accounts of the various public-sector registered pension schemes.

These include the Ghana Education Service Occupational Pension Scheme, Health Sector Occupational Pension Scheme, Judicial Service Occupational Pension Scheme and Hedge Master Trust Occupational Pension Scheme.

He said efforts are being expedited to bring all matters arising from the TPFA transfers, including data reconciliation of beneficiaries and the issue of past credit, to a logical conclusion.

Higher contributions

As a result of several other initiatives put in place there has been an increase in the membership of personal pension schemes and contributions paid.

“As at the first quarter of 2019, the total number of members on the personal pension scheme was 158,577, with a total asset under management of GHC88,646,234.58 ($17,729,246.92),” he said.

Mr Awuah also said as at December 31 2018 the active worker population recorded on Tier 1 – the mandatory social security payment scheme ‒ was 1,533,942, and that under Tier 1 new members enrolled on to the SSNIT scheme rose from 281,303 in 2017 to 611,397 as of May 2019, at an average growth rate of 46.8 per cent.

In an effort to sanitise operations of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the government embarked on an exercise in February this year to identify and eliminate “ghost” pensioners from the SSNIT payroll. The Minister said the exercise had saved the Trust over GHC43.8 million as at the end of May 2019.

There were 1,427,137 contributors under Tier 2 (the voluntary payment option for older workers) as at the end of 2018, he announced.


However, Mr Baffour Awuah complained that there is a huge number of workers in the informal sector who are not covered by pensions, and he called for outreach work to extend social protection to them.

Although the industry is beginning to experience tremendous improvements, there are certain critical challenges impeding progress in pensions, he said.

He also lamented the unpatriotic and criminal underdeclaration of employees’ basic salaries by some employers in order to pay low contributions for workers.

“This ultimately affects their pensions because pensions are a direct reflection of the salaries on which contributions were paid,” Mr Baffour Awuah said.

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Last modified on Friday, 30 August 2019 18:34


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