Surviving Ghana: 10 Young Ghanaians Share Their Struggles With Unemployment After University

High angle shot of a young male looking stressed while working on his computer in the office (GettyImages)

This week, a Ghanaian politcal pundit went on an Accra based radio station to talk about young people and unemployment. The conversation was coming from the YEA job fair that turned chaotic and left scores of young job seekers injured.

The political pundit regurgitated the usual cliche of how young people are unemployed because they don’t have employable skills. As a politician, this takes the blame of unemployment from the failure of successive governments and puts the blame squarely on the young person who has not even been given a chance to prove whether he or she has employable skills or not.

Of course, there are some people who just can’t seem to flourish or contribute meaningfully in a corporate environment but to completely write off that person as not having “employable skills” is dishonest.

Young people (Ghanaian youth) are out there trying to make something for themselves. They go through school believing what we’ve told all along while growing up. “Go to school, get a job and make something meaningful out of your life.”

While others have secured jobs and flourished, the story has not been rosy for a significant number of other young people. Based on one’s political affiliation the percentage of youth unemployment swings like a pendillum, however, it doesn’t take away the fact that one too many young people are unemployed. engaged a number of young people who say they are unemployed in a conversation about how they are surviving in a country that has all the odds stacked against them. Unlike some countries, we don’t have unemployment benefits, we don’t have social security so if you are not making money as a young person, then no money is coming your way.

What we found is that, though the young people are not employed or gainfully employed, they are still striving to make something for themselves against all odds.

Nana Yaw

I am 33 years old and I have never been gainfully employed. Don’t get me wrong. I have done paid jobs in construction but never had a job where I had SSNIT. Meanwhile, I have a degree.


I did my NSS in a bank. Afterwards, I was maintained on contract it didn’t end when the banking crisis came. All of us we let go and now I buy and sell sneakers. It’s not much but at least cover my expenses. I live at home so I only have to contribute to water or light. Thankfuly, i don’t pay rent.


I didn’t complete tertiary because of financial issues. After trying and failing to raise the money I needed I started learning how to do make up from my cousin. These days, it’s just survival one day at a time. I can’t tell where my life will be in the next 5 years.


I grew up a rich kid. My dad had houses and he was a surveyor. Just before I went to senior High school, he passed away. My mum sold in the shop at home.. however, it wasn’t enough for our upkeep. We had to sell some of our houses to provide for us… I went to uni thinking once I graduate I would be able to provide for myself at least. That has not been the case. I’m only surviving from rent money. We have rented some of dad’s houses.

Maame Esi

My superwoman mother who widowed just after her third born came has been selling tomatoes to provide for us for decades now. As the eldest I hoped that after uni I could retire her… I haven’t been able to… we sell together but I will surely retire her one day. I don’t know if she’ll agree.


At the boarding house in secondary school, I used to cut the hair of my friends. During brokie week, I do that for either small coins or exchange for sardine and shito. When we got to uni, I completely forgot about it. But that is what is saving me now that I am “officially” part of the unemployed graduates association. I have opened a small shop in from of our house and that helps me with some small coins. To be frank I have given up applying for jobs because you don’t even get rejection emails. They just go silent on you as if they never received your application.


I was working in the IT department of a savings and loans company. When the banking crisis happened the company was shutdown. At the time, I haven’t been paid for three months. Months after that they gave us something and i used that to open a game shop at home. I have been applying for jobs and nothing came through. I finally had one that paid me GHS 1,000. My tnt and feeding alone is almost 90% of my salary.


I was posted to teach during my NSS. I loved it but because I did a BA and not an education degree, i was not able to get into the GES system. It’s been two years now with no job. I now help my uncle who sells construction materials. The money I get there is not enough to get my own place which bothers me because my parents are also renting. You know Accra rent issues too.


I had a baby just after high school so I delayed going to uni for a year. Mum and dad were helpful and my baby daddy then now husband was also there for me. Now I have another with no job. My husband has a job and that covers us financially but I want to have my own money. I do buying and selling of second hand clothing here and there but that’s not what I wanted. If something happens to my husband today. I have to change schools for my children.


I had a good job after NSS. Net in the GHS 2K range. Healthcare and SSNIT was paid and even the PETRA thing too. I messed it up. Eventually, I was let go. I also think COVID-19 played a role. I haven’t been able to get back since. My friends are very generous and they help me a lot but I know I can’t rely on them always. I am trying but it’s hard. I am saying I messed up because I wasn’t meeting my targets like my colleagues no matter how hard I tried not that I was being stubborn or anything.

Young Ghanaians are doing their very best to carry their own weight, however, the system is rigged against them.


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