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Decisions as dilemmas for sustainability: green jobs and capacity inequalities

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TGG_Icon_Color_08The green jobs constitute the largest labour markets in rural-urban Africa and possibly the rest of developing tropical nations. The green jobs encompass non-farm and off-farm employment services in agro-production enterprises, banking, energy, mining, timber-cutting, restaurants, agro-processing industries, food trade and training of future agri-environmental professionals from primary to higher levels of learning. The green labour market is big. It significantly feeds economic variables for calculating the value of Gross Domestic Product and yet it is often underestimated in analysing labour matters. The employees in the green jobs are usually the lowest paid. Most of the older smallholder farmers continue to unjustly suffer from extreme food and income insecurity because of lack of agro-insurance instrument, price fluctuation, and adverse climate uncertainties associated with farming businesses. The conglomeration of agri-environmental, forestry and natural resource related faculties in Ghanaian research institutions, colleges and public universities are among the biggest employers and the trainers of future employees for green sector development. The Ghanaian informal economy like many other African countries is dominated by green activities ranging from raw commodity production, marketing to transportation.

Intrinsically, the central issue in this text is who and how decisions regarding green jobs are taken in contemporary learned society and the result of the decisions on progress towards the wider sustainable development systems, including environment-human security. The disturbing situation emerging in Ghana is where nearly 95 per cent of organisations operating and recruiting have excellent expertise in the drafting and advertising green-related employment opportunities and yet have failed in publishing salary range that fits or goes with executing the intended green job.

Though not entirely related to green jobs, the USA Mission in Ghana can undoubtedly score over 98 per cent as compared to other organisations in regards to ensuring fair decision, equity and security of vulnerable job seekers at the point of recruitment. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) also successfully demonstrated higher counts in this respect with my assessment of 15 advertised jobs in the state media by different organisations. Mostly, salary range does not accompany employment advertisements creating wide negotiation spaces within which professionals that are newly entering the job are cheated and defrauded. Shockingly, the state institutions and Ghanaian public universities also hardly publish salary range with advertised jobs.

For instance, a job that is budgeted to go with the payment of salary in the range of €25,000 – €30,000 per annum may be offered to an early career professional as low as €4,000 – €4,500. A very deadly ill! This greedy attitude is killing the spirit of innovation and creativity that can lead to increasing productivity. In-work poverty is rampant in the urban areas. The salary is cut not because of lack of skills and competencies. It is due to weak decision-making capacity of first-time job seekers, in particular, to negotiate employment entitlements.

A careful assessment shows the green jobs are not entirely scarce. It is rather the fierce struggle among elites to maintain relationship with powerful international organisations, embassies and the state institutions, which spawns complex barriers at point of recruitment to make the situation seem as if green jobs are not available. ‘Needing something to do’ instigates young graduates to accept job offers which eventually turn out to enslave them and, in the end, they are digitally controlled, spied, criminalised and their social networks are deliberately destroyed. In Ghana, it is not uncommon for an elite individual or network to blackmail the other against a nation-established organisation or community. Applying for a green development job means that the person has asked for a favour to be done for him or her.

Early career professionals are increasingly preyed on by recruiting intermediaries to safeguard their own contract portfolios with the international organisations. The consequence is the rising workplace abuse, deceit and mistrust. The workplace abuse is seeded by digital violence. Since the intermediaries have claimed to be flawless, they employ digital devices or technologies to generate evidence-created falsehood to aid decisions that damage reputation and integrity of vulnerable professionals, especially those at early career stage. This is happening because the state, foreign donors and communities have turned blind eye to the dehumanizing effect of digital violence. The intermediaries are increasingly adopting spatio-digital violence to vilely brand other employment contestants. By digitally abusing others, pave ways to recruit preferred persons and to hold onto employment recruitment assignments – a route to struggle for power, resources and recognition. ‘Drive them away from the food table so that we can have more to eat’. How can you give a person €50 and ask such a person to write a ‘project proposal’ that will win a project grant worth over €200,000 to prove that he or she has ‘skill’?

The dilemma of making decisions has created deep loopholes that do not only directly sink the career of young people but also exacerbates general human resource degradation and revenue shortfalls. I am expressing this because if decision about recruitment is massively faulty, paying for or managing sanitation services become problematic. Congestion, squatter settlement and slums in the city thicken. Also, green resources are unsustainably exploited. Urban crime increases among the youth. Unionised strikes overwhelm the employment system with consequences that hinder socio-economic growth and prosperity. Very often the requisite skills, which are needed to strategically deal with these challenging development problems overtime, are overlooked or oppressed. When skills are tamed, appropriately linking a gamut of ingredients needed to build, retrofit or clean sustainability processes is invariably challenged. In the end, the national economy and human development dangle because the planned jobs do not get done. So, in new sustainability science, the salary range ought to be advertised according to the set job to be done to protect and lessen the severe harm being caused to early career professionals simply due to capacity inequalities.

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