Blog: Creating Opportunities For Youth In The Construction Sector

The latest World Bank report on the state of employment in Ghana indicates that 48% of Ghanaian youth, between 15 – 24 years are unemployed. The ‘Landscape of Jobs in Ghana’ report explored opportunities for youth inclusion in the Ghanaian labour market. With a greater number of Ghanaian graduates unable to find jobs right after their mandatory national service, the situation shifts to quite an uncomfortable one. The situation seems to be worse for those who drop off the academic train pre-tertiary. For this unfortunate group, this means close to no skills acquired in readiness to access any available job opening that may exist for that stage.

Year in year out, thousands of young people struggle to find employment in all sectors of the economy. The most proffered solution to this dilemma, in some countries, is a rigorous drive towards entrepreneurship for unemployed youth. Through entrepreneurship, the ever expanding burden on government to absorb a greater number of unemployed citizens, mostly youth, is greatly reduced. Entrepreneurship implies not only the huge relief taken off government’s shoulders to employ, but also, the opportunity for each entrepreneur to equally employ others, with a resultant rippling effect on reducing the total unemployment rate.

An attempt at introducing entrepreneurship as the best creation option also comprises the identification of available resources and employment avenues pertaining to specific sectors of the economy where potential entrepreneurs can fit in, operate, make profit, and in the long run, contribute to economic growth.

Ghana has a present housing deficit of 1.7 million units. This, no doubt, is indicative of an already booming sector yet to be fully utilised. Land seems to be the hottest commodity in Ghana. Accra, Kumasi, Tema, and Ghana’s oil twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi are all enjoying this bustling expansion in construction infrastructure. In Accra, new structures spring up by the day, each project giving employment to some group of people. A sector as construction demands skilled labour. A thorough consideration of the value chain of the construction sector will reveal the underlying fact that to excel in the construction sector demands some skill in one’s preferred aspect of construction. Surveying, architecture, masonry, carpentry, electrical installation, painting, welding, steel bending, roofing, tiling, interior decoration, landscaping,  aluminium glass fabrication, you complete the list. Each stop along the construction value chain continuum requires some skill.

The need for more investment in young people to venture into entrepreneurship has received a further boost in five locations across Ghana – Accra, Tema, Ashaiman, Sekondi-Takoradi and Kumasi.

The Youth Inclusive Entrepreneurial Development Initiative for Employment (YIEDIE) is a five year project aimed at equipping at least 23,700 young people between 17 and 24 years with employable skills in the construction sector. The project, being implemented by a consortium of organisations, led by Global Communities, has a two pronged approach to creating employment in the construction sector for young people.

The construction technical skills cohort, managed by Opportunities Industrialisation Centre – Ghana (OICG), trains beneficiaries in specific professions in the sector. Potential masons, carpenters, painters, machine operators, interior decorators among others are assigned, for a period of time, to community-based master craftsmen who are skilled in the particular craft.

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For young people willing to start their own businesses in the sector, there is the soft skills training component of the project. This component of the project is managed by Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana). Eligible young people selected from the project locations are trained in Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, Life Skills and Work Readiness. The nine-week training is trainee focused and allows potential young entrepreneurs the opportunity to discover their potential while tailoring their expectations to existing and available sub sectors of the construction sector. The Soft Skills Training module, as the component is popularly called, is delivered using a carefully formulated training manual and trainee handbook developed by a solid team of professionals with years of experience in training and capacity building, construction, youth development and mentoring, financial, entrepreneurial and life skills.

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YIEDIE beneficiaries are typically young people aged between 17 and 24, out of school and unemployed, interested in working in the construction sector and resident in any of the five project locations – Accra, Sekondi-Takoradi, Tema, Ashaiman and Kumasi.

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The first step of the YIEDIE process is the screening stage, where potential beneficiaries are assessed to ascertain their eligibility, readiness and preference on the project. Eligibility criteria includes being between 17 – 24, unemployed, out of school, interested in working in the construction sector and residence in any of the five     YIEDIE locations.

Young people are also assessed for their readiness to go the full stretch of the project, regardless of their preferred option or route, be it technical construction or entrepreneurial training. The confirmation that a young applicant qualifies to enrol on the project kick starts the actual participation in the project. Active savings accounts are also opened for all trainees of the project. This component, managed by hfc boafo, ensures that each potential entrepreneur starts and ends their period of training with an active savings account with which to make deposits, withdrawals and effectively track their financial transactions when they start their businesses. Effective use of these accounts and ways of accessing available funding from both the project and hfc boafo are also dealt with as part of the project.

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At this stage, qualified young people who opted for the soft skills training are taken through a nine – week, weekend only training in entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy, life skills and work readiness. These training sessions are location specific, implying sessions are held in the actual communities of trainees to ensure maximum participation. After training, beneficiaries are awarded certificates to indicate their completion of the soft skills training and then proceed to the African Aurora Business Network (AABN) to learn effective business proposal development, business management and the final coaching before venturing into the world of entrepreneurship.

Beneficiaries, upon completion of their training, have the opportunity to register to be a member of the Artisans Association of Ghana (AAG), the umbrella body of artisans across Ghana. Aligning with the Association gives beneficiaries the leverage to strategically position themselves for available businesses and employment avenues by virtue of being added to the Association’s already existing database.

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To young people eager to start their small businesses in the construction sector, YIEDIE is the best option for you. YIEDIE has an incentive package for women who enrol. The construction sector provides an avenue for the creation of jobs and opportunities for economic growth, especially in the five YIEDIE locations. It is inherent on young people resident in these project communities to take advantage of this life changing project to improve their living standards, create opportunities for others and in the wider scheme contribute to the economic growth of Ghana in a sector with more than enough potential for all.

YIEDIE is creating economic opportunities for youth aged 17-24 in Ghana’s construction sector by training young women and men in technical construction skills and helping youth to grow and start small businesses. The project is increasing collaboration and support amongst construction sector stakeholders to improve their enabling environment.

YIEDIE is part of the Youth Forward Initiative. The Youth Forward Initiative is focused on transitioning economically disadvantaged young people to find quality employment or start their own businesses.