International Youth Day is a day to reflect on the contribution of youth towards building a safer and more peaceful future. It is a day to remember that impactful political, economic, and social change is only possible with key input from youth. This year, International Youth Day is dedicated to commemorating young people across the globe for their contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and peace. The United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth notes that young people are often the main victims of conflict. Given the alarming rate of conflict worldwide, it is more important than ever to give youth a greater voice in decision-making and to set up mechanisms that would enable them to participate in peace processes.

While there is a growing interest on the integration of youth in all development planning processes, opportunities for youth to become economically and socially active remain low. A 2009 Institute of Social Statistics and Economic Research (ISSER) report shows that, in Ghana about 250,000 young people enter the labour market annually. Out of that figure only two percent is able to secure jobs in the formal sector while the rest strive to survive in the informal sector or remain unemployed. Whereas national unemployment rate is believed to be decreasing, available statistics point to rising graduate unemployment. For instance, graduate unemployment stood at 14.7 percent in 1987 and in 2011, the figure had shot up to 40 percent.

These troubling indicators reveal the extent to which Ghanaian youth are vulnerable to manipulation, coercion and exploitation for courses of action that continue to frustrate efforts at peacebuilding and the development of the nation. Although young people continue to contribute to the advancement of society, they struggle to make ends meet due to a lack of employment opportunities. Youth skills development and employment is an indispensable means of engaging the idle, energetic and passionate youth in self-development and in empowering the youth to make positive and sustainable contributions towards national development. We must therefore invest in young people and allow them to gain the skills required to usher in a peaceful, prosperous, and united future.

It is for this purpose that Global Communities is dedicated to creating long-lasting, positive and community-led change that improves the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable people across the globe. The Youth Inclusive Entrepreneurial Development Initiative for Employment (YIEDIE) Project aims to support young people's life choices and their sense of responsibility, as well as to increase their participation in all sectors of the Ghanaian economy especially the burgeoning construction sector in achieving a better tomorrow. We create the fundamentals for growth by linking young people with volunteering opportunities in order to strengthen their skills, motivations and experiences. YIEDIE also works toward bringing youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrating the potential of youth as partners of constructive change in today’s global society.

We believe that effective youth building is about creating opportunities for all young people to be actively involved in influencing, shaping, designing and contributing to the decision making process and the development of services and programmes. To this end, we call on all governments and stakeholders to take heed to the United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth and ignite the flame of progress, peace, and prosperity through the empowerment of youth.

Happy International Youth Day!

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