Mr Henry Kerali, the World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, has urged the youth to focus on building their capacity in Information Technology (IT) to benefit from the rapid growth of the sector.
He said Ghana’s development required more young people with IT and computer skills because the advancement of the sector could accelerate innovation and create more jobs for the youth, thereby reducing poverty.
Mr Kerali, who was speaking at a day’s dialogue on the “Future of Work and How Ghanaians could Use Technology to Create Jobs,” however said there was a shortage of IT trained workers.
The event also marked the 25th Anniversary of the Declaration by the United Nations General Assembly, designating October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Eradicating poverty in all its dimensions, as embodied in Goal1 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, remained one of the greatest global challenges.
Taking inspiration from the late Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, he said; “Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace.”
“If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies”.
Mr Kerali noted that a recent Ghana Employers Association Skills Gap Survey revealed that 47 per cent of employees were computer literate and IT was the most lacking skills among them. The study, he said, found that 30 per cent of employers in the country indicated that employees lack technical and practical skills.
He said Ghana achieved the first Millennium Development Goal of reducing the poverty rate by more than half, declining from 52.7 per cent in 1991 to 23.4 per cent in 2017. However, he said, there was still a wide gap between educated and non-educated households and that the poverty rate remained 37 per cent among households whose heads received no formal education.
The poverty rate declined to 7.5 per cent among households whose heads have completed senior secondary school. “The poverty rate of households whose heads completed tertiary education declined to 0.9 percent. These numbers suggest that investing in education is key to ending poverty in Ghana.
“As a higher level of education leads to better jobs and economic opportunities, Ghana can expect rising earnings for girls in the very near future. A study by the World Bank finds that each additional year of education is associated with a six to 10 per cent increase in earnings,” Mr Kerali said.
Touching on the Sub-Saharan Africa performance on shared prosperity, he said the Continent performed poorly, as its ability to break inter-generational poverty, reduce overall poverty, and boost shared prosperity, would require transformational actions to spur and sustain strong economic growth and enhance human capital.
At a panel discussion, speakers drawn from the human resource, business and IT sectors unanimously allayed the fears that technology would soon take over the work of humans and make them redundant.
They were of the view that although robots could assume some responsibilities and duties, it presents an opportunity for humans to critically think and develop solutions to the many problems in the world.
Ms Joycelyn Meds-Ainoo, a Savvy Human Resource Professional, said the future of work was positive for people and urged students to go beyond the theoretical studies and develop soft skills including teamwork, good communication skills, and critical thinking to make them marketable in the world of work.