Ebenezer M. Ashley’s thoughts ….. Role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Ghana’s development for the 21st century

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Students in a technical and vocational school(Photo Credit: gettyimages)

The concept of technical education has attracted varied explanations. It is often referred to as Career and Vocational Education (CVE) or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). Technical education involves the imparting of knowledge through laid-down procedure; it is the type of education that prepares individuals for specific careers, trades, and crafts at various levels from craft, technician, trade or professional positions in accountancy, medicine, architecture, engineering, nursing, law, pharmacy and others.

The term, craft, is often used to describe a profession that demands some particular form of skills. In the Middle Age and earlier, the term, craftsman or craftswoman, was used to describe individuals engaged in small scale production of goods or their maintenance. In contemporary times, the term artisan is used in place of craftsman or craftswoman. In rare cases, the term craftsperson is used. Craft vocation involves practical or manual activities related to a specific vocation, trade or occupation. Under craft vocation, the trainee develops expertise in a given set of techniques. For this reason, it is sometimes called technical education. Craft vocations may not necessarily involve further education, but can be pursued at a higher level.

Forms of Knowledge in TVET

Two major forms of knowledge are identified in the realm of technical and vocational education and training. These include propositional or declarative knowledge and imperative or procedural knowledge. The use of conceptual and theoretical knowledge in the resolution of problems abounds in propositional or declarative knowledge. It involves the use of scientific methods in solving socio-economic issues. This is more pronounced in regular secondary institutions and non-technical universities than in vocational and technical institutions, and technical universities. Under imperative or procedural knowledge, the individual applies knowledge to a specific task or job. Problem-solving under this form of knowledge requires actual performance, not theoretical postulations. Generally, technical and vocational education involves the use of procedural or imperative knowledge; not declarative knowledge.

TVE and Apprenticeship System

Throughout the world, technical and vocational education (TVE) has interactions with the apprenticeship system. Technical and vocational education can be pursued at the secondary, post-secondary, technical university and ‘general’ university levels. Academic credits accumulated at the pre-university levels can be used to gain admission into the university.

Apprenticeship involves imparting of basic set of skills from an experienced person to another person, or to a group of persons, with a structured competency. Apprenticeship training prepares trainees for their preferred jobs, vocations or trades. Apprenticeships are designed for many levels of work – from manual trades to high knowledge work. The term apprentices is used to describe male learners while the term apprentesses is employed to describe female learners.

The labour market in the 21st century has become more specialised, while economies demand higher levels of skill. This has compelled businesses and governments across the globe to increase their investments in technical and vocational training to secure its future. Some of the initiatives, notably from government’s perspective, include increased public funding in training individuals and organisations; and subsidised apprenticeship or traineeship initiatives for businesses. In most developed economies, technical and vocational training at the post-secondary level is provided by community colleges, technology institutes and universities.

Fortunately, emerging and developing economies, including Ghana, are emulating the shining examples and giant strides of advanced economies in the development of their respective technical and vocational trainings. In Ghana, technical and vocational training at the post-secondary level is pursued predominantly at polytechnics and technical universities. Currently, Ghana boasts a technical university or polytechnic in each of the ten traditional regions.

In the 21st century, the use of technical and vocational skills is highly pronounced in industries such as retail, funeral services, tourism, cosmetics, information technology, cottage and traditional crafts such as blacksmithing and basket-weaving, construction, mining, assembly plants, dressmaking, hairdressing and hair-braiding, barbering (haircuts) and carpentry, among others. The vibrancy of the foregoing industries underscores the need for strategic and improved technical and vocational training methods to adequately meet the needs of consumers in these industries.

 The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Society has evolved in its quest for effective and efficient production in commercial quantities to meet the growing needs and demands of its inhabitants. This development is commonly known as the Industrial Revolution. Experts believe the world has evolved to the fourth industrial revolution. The first revolution involved use of water and steam power to produce goods in large quantities to meet growing demands. The second involved use of electric power for mass production; and the third focused on use of electronics and information technology to automate small- and large-scale production in various parts of the world.

The fourth is described as the digital revolution. It involves blending of technologies – that is, blurring the lines between the biological, physical, and digital spheres to meet growing socio-economic needs across the globe. Global leaders are encouraged to embrace the digital revolution due to its enormous propensity to turn the economic fortunes of nations around, positively.

 United States in Perspective

In the United States of America (USA), vocational education varies from state to state. Most post-secondary technical and vocational institutions are proprietary. That is, they are privately owned. About 30 percent of all credentials in technical and vocational education are provided by two-year community colleges. These colleges offer courses and programmes which are transferrable to four-year universities and colleges. Some programmes are offered through Adult Education Centres operated by government or through military technical training.

Middle Schools and High Schools offer technical and vocational training courses such as home economics, drafting, wood and metal shop work, typing, business courses and auto repairs. An implementation of the standard-based education (SBE) reform in the United States places more emphasis on the academic performance of technical and vocational skills students than on their developed skills. The SBE Reform calls for clear, measurable standards for all academic students. The SBE system measures each student against the concrete standard. Curriculums, assessments, and professional development are aligned to standards.

Great Britain in Perspective

It is believed the skills held by the labour force in Great Britain do not conform to those demanded by organisations. A report issued by the British Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) in recent years indicated the country’s ability to effectively compete in technical and vocational education at the global level is contingent on the institutionalisation of stronger and better quality technical and vocational education system.

The British Institute of Public Policy Research report noted demand for medium-skilled jobs requiring technical and vocational qualifications will increase in the next 7 years. The report further revealed expansion in tertiary education will out-pace the creation of jobs requiring highly-skilled labour. The implication is eventual churning out of excess labour force (supply) over demand by industry. The report provided the British government with an opportunity to take proactive steps to remedy the foreseen human capital challenges which may be inimical to the country’s socio-economic development and growth.

Ghana in Perspective

In Ghana, there are two identified pathways to technical and vocational training. These include admission into a technical or vocational institute, and possibly proceeding to the tertiary level; and apprenticeship with a master artisan or craftsperson in a chosen field or trade. There are three levels of technical and vocational education in Ghana: Basic education, secondary education, and tertiary education levels.

The basic education level is used to describe commencement of technical and vocational education at the Junior High School (JHS) level. The main objective of basic education in Ghana is to vocationalise education; and to develop the psychomotor skills of students.

At the secondary education level, technical and vocational training courses are offered in technical institutions, secondary technical schools, vocational schools and training centres, some initial teacher training colleges, and in other post-basic education training schools.

Delivery of technical and vocational education at the tertiary level is made by the polytechnics, other professional institutions, technical universities and some non-technical universities. The underlying objective of vocational and technical education at the basic and secondary levels is to make vocational and technical training skills available to young men and women to facilitate their fulfillment of Ghana’s technical manpower needs – including self-employment in the fields of agriculture, business, industry, and information and communication technology (ICT).

Basic Statistics on TVET in Ghana

Available statistics from the Ghana Education Service (GES) on pre-tertiary technical and vocational institutions in the country over recent years revealed the establishment of about one hundred and sixty (160) public technical and vocational institutions, including twenty-two (22) technical institutes. There were nineteen (19) National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) centres under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations; and others run by various government organisations such as the National Community Development Vocational Institute (NCDVI) established in 1965 by the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development. There are about two hundred and fifty (250) officially registered private vocational schools training centres operated by individuals, churches, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

However, in 2019 the sector minister, Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, noted the availability of four hundred (400) public-sector TVET institutions across the country. These institutions exist and operate under the ambit of nineteen (19) distinct ministries, but plans were far advanced to integrate or realign them under the Ministry of Education to standardise their instructional quality and certification; and to ensure all students have access to the Free TVET education programme to be rolled-out starting from the next academic year. Presently, only TVET schools under the Ghana Education Service enjoy free education through the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme. The integration forms part of the ‘Five-Year Strategic Plan for TVET Transformation’ approved by Cabinet for implementation.

Traditional Apprenticeship System

As affirmed earlier, in Ghana the traditional apprenticeship system involves learning a specific trade from a master artisan or craftsperson in areas such as dressmaking, plumbing, hairdressing, electronics and auto-mechanical repairs in the economy’s informal sector. Most of the master artisans learnt the trade the same way. The traditional apprenticeship system is very important; it facilitates training people for economic development. Most technical and vocational education and training practitioners are in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy.

The Asian Tigers – including Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore – have developed sound policies in technical and vocational training. This has resulted in the supply of more highly-skilled labour forces in those countries. Other upper and lower middle-income economies such as Ghana can emulate the sterling examples of the Asian Tigers in the area of technical and vocational education and training. Sound investment in TVET would yield the desired dividend; it would create employment opportunities for the unemployed, especially the youth; it would facilitate training of more people to meet the manpower needs of the country and possibly have surplus to export.

Indeed, actualisation of the One District, One Factory initiative – a flagship programme introduced by the President Nana Akufo-Addo administration – is contingent on a myriad of factors, including adequate supply of human capital to meet the expected demands of factories in all districts across the country. The foregoing renders massive investment in technical and vocational education and training inevitably; and accentuates the President Nana Akufo-Addo administration’s resolve to invest about €500million, equivalent to GH¢3billion, into TVET.

Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI)

In Ghana, the technical and vocational training sector is regulated by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET). Indeed, Ghana needs a skilled labour force to maintain its houses, bridges, railroads or railways, seaports and roads. The country needs competent mechanics and engineers to provide the requisite services for its industries – auto, hardware, shoes, jewellery, and garment and textile industries to name a few.

In response to the growing technical skills requirement of the country, the Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI) was founded. GSDI is a German government-assisted project that is implemented in cooperation with the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

The Ghana Skills Development Initiative aims at building capacity in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy. In Ghana, the informal sector is noted for employing about 90% of the active labour force. The Ghana Skills Development Initiative is intended to improve structural deficiencies inherent in the Ghanaian apprenticeship system. These deficiencies include lack of coordination, non-standardisation of training, and technological inefficiencies among others.

Benefits of TVET

Addressing the numerous challenges associated with the successful implementation of technical and vocational education and training would have some positive socio-economic impacts on the Ghanaian economy. First, it would allow individuals to acquire life-long skills. Just as formal education is believed involve life-long knowledge-acquisition, so does a skill acquired through technical and vocational training remain a possessive asset of the trained till death. Even in old age, a skilled person can earn a decent living through coaching and teaching. It is worth emphasising a person’s brain becomes a major source of livelihood in old age – not his or her physical strength.

Individuals who train as engineers and highly skilled professionals have the opportunity to earn decent wages and salaries, win the bid for valuable contracts, and live in dignity – economically or financially. Thus, TVET contributes significantly to elevating the economic and social status of individuals. Through an effective and efficient technical and vocational education and training system, the country’s manpower needs can be met substantially. The various national and private technical and vocational institutes strive to churn out graduates to meet the manpower needs of various firms in the economy’s industrial sector. As noted in the preceding section, the role of TVET in the successful implementation of the One District, One Factory programme cannot be overemphasised.

The rate of unemployment in the Ghanaian economy (approximately 6.78% in 2019) can be reduced considerably through technical and vocational education and training. Individuals who acquire informal technical and vocational training in auto and refrigerator repairs, electronic repairs, beads-making, sewing, hairdressing, to mention a few, often set up their own shops – and enrol new entrants for training. This reduces the amount of active labour force that is idle in the economy. Further, TVET holds the key to the successful development of the requisite human capital to operate most of the factories envisaged to be established in the nooks and crannies of this country.

Well-coordinated TVET programmes will contribute positively to national revenue mobilisation through an expanded tax net. As more individuals are trained and absorbed into the job market, the number of employees and organisations eligible for tax payment increases. All else held constant, when more people are attracted to tax payment, the nation’s total revenue from taxes will increase. In turn, successful execution and completion of government-sponsored projects will be enhanced.

Training individuals to be technically and vocationally skilled increases the country’s competitiveness at the global level, and minimises the need for the importation of same. Ghana’s ability to train and churn out highly skilled personnel will help meet manpower needs of the country, and possibly export excess skilled personnel to neighbouring West African countries and other countries on the African continent and beyond.

Currently, advanced and emerging economies such as the United States of America, Germany, China, India and Brazil boast engineers with strong professional achievements and reputations – as evidenced in the constructions of the Kwame Nkrumah, Tema and Pokuase interchanges, and other infrastructural projects in Ghana and across the African continent. Ghana can imitate the sterling accomplishments of these economies through enhanced TVET programmes and structures at the secondary and tertiary levels.

Challenges of TVET

The successful development of technical and vocational education and training in Ghana has suffered setbacks due to a number of factors. Notable among these is included public perception of low prestige. An erroneous impression held among a section of the Ghanaian populace is that students who enrol in technical and vocational programmes are academically weak; they do not have the intellectual ‘clout’ to compete effectively with their counterparts in the ‘regular’ secondary schools. Such an impression makes potential technical experts shy away from the profession. The situation is exacerbated further by some parents who do not subscribe to their wards’ decision to pursue careers in technical and vocational education and training, at the expense of ‘prestigious’ careers in law and banking, among others.

Another challenge is the difficulty in imparting technical and vocational knowledge to trainees in the formal and informal sectors of the Ghanaian economy. The teaching method adopted by some technical and vocational instructors makes it difficult for students to effectively grasp and appreciate the concept of technical and vocational education and training in Ghana. In some cases, students graduating from the Junior High School level seek admission into Science and Business programmes at the Senior High School level. When they are unable to gain admission into the aforementioned programmes, they opt for technical and vocational education and training institutions as a last resort. As a result, the zeal and enthusiasm required to enrol and ensure the student’s eventual success are non-existent. This affects the overall performance of the implied students.

Some trainees in the informal sector are introduced to vocations in which they have limited interest or lack the mental capacity to live up to training expectations. This affects the entire training period’s duration. For instance, a training course expected to last for say six months might last for a year; a training course estimated to last for a year may extend into two years due to the trainee’s inability to cope effectively with and grasp the training regimen. Excessive reliance on theory rather than practice due to lack of practical equipment in many institutions continues to be a bane to technical and vocational education and training in developing economies, including Ghana. For instance, in recent years, equipment acquired in the mid-40s were still the main source of training students at the Asawansi Technical Institute in the Central Region of Ghana.

Availability of even outmoded equipment is rare in some institutions. Stated differently, some technical and vocational institutions exist in principle; however, in practice, they lack basic and sophisticated equipment to effectively train students enrolled in various programmes. In most institutions where technical tools and equipment can be located, the students-tools ratio is very high. That is, many students are compelled to use a limited number of tools and equipment, and this affects the quality of practical training.

Unfortunately, successive elected governments’ commitment to technical and vocational education and training over the years has not been encouraging. This is evident in the budgetary allocations over the years. As an example, the Ghana Education Service (GES) used to allocate only about 2% of its budget to the technical and vocational education and training sector. Clearly, such an allocation affects the effective development of the sector. However, recent campaigns by current government officials – including the Minister of Education, Hon. Prempeh and his deputies – point to their realisation of the sector’s marginalisation and the urgent need to address its challenges to enhance its contribution to the development of skilled and qualified manpower personnel in the country.

Low budgetary allocation by the Ghana Education Service derails the forward movement of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training in the area of policy formulation and implementation, as well as supervision.  Lack of funding affects the positive impacts that technical and vocational institutions require of COTVET. Technical assistance required of COTVET by the technical and vocational institutions spread across the country is not forthcoming due to lack of financial and technical resources.

Generally, students enrolled in some vocational training programmes do not read and take national examinations in English and mathematics. This affects their smooth transition from one level of the academic ladder to the next. As an example, enrollment into programmes at the polytechnic, technical university, and non-technical university levels by vocational students sometimes become problematic due to the exclusion of English and mathematics from their curricula; and from their national examinations.

Government’s Response to Challenges

As noted in the preceding section, there is a positive relationship between TVET and the industrialisation drive intended for this country by President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration. The industrialisation drive’s success depends to a very large extent on the effectiveness of TVET. In most manufacturing settings, demand for factory-hands exceeds demand for ‘white-collar’ or administrative hands – implying technical and vocational trainees will dominate the demand for human capital during the implementation of the industrialisation programme.

Fortunately, the current political administration is not oblivious of the crucial role of TVET and has taken steps to address some of the key challenges in the sector.

In 2017, a Deputy Minister of Education was appointed to ensure success for the nation’s TVET programme. President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration is committed to the construction of thirty-two (32) ultra-modern TVET institutions in all sixteen (16) regions across the country. Funds required for the project have been secured, while feasibility studies have been completed. The decision to spread the construction across the country is analogous with the establishment of factories in all the districts. This will create the required link among the respective factories and training institutions.

The Education Ministry has taken the requisite initiatives to lay a bill on pre-tertiary Education before Parliament. The bill seeks to mandate the establishment of a TVET Service with its own Director-General and to integrate all TVET institutions under the Education Ministry. Further, it has developed a curriculum on Competency-Based Training (CBT) for various areas in trade; and has accredited seventy-six (76) institutions to run CBT programmes.

The Education Ministry is equally mindful of the need for the trainer to be well-equipped or trained to facilitate his training of trainees. To this end, a university dedicated solely to the training of instructors for TVET is being established; while the retooling, upgrade and expansion of thirty-five (35) National Vocational Training Institutes, thirteen (13) technical institutes, eight (8) technical universities and two (2) polytechnics is ongoing in various parts of the country.

In addition, two new machining and foundry centres are being established in Accra and Kumasi. The estimated costs of the two projects are €119million, equivalent to GH¢642.6million, and constitute about 3.7% of the Ministry of Education’s budget for the financial year. As stated earlier, a total of €500million, equivalent to GH¢3billion has been secured for investments in all the projects outlined in this section. This will enhance Ghana’s preparedness and responsiveness to the human capital challenges likely to be posed during the implementation stage of the industrialisation agenda.

At the continental level, Ghana is committed to the Fund established by the African Union (AU) for Development of Education among member-countries. The fund is intended to allow member-countries to develop requisite skills in the areas of technology, applied sciences, and engineering for industrial and economic transformation. In 2019, Ghana pledged US$2million to the Fund.

Ghana is a member of World Skills International, an organisation established to provide youths across the globe with an opportunity to showcase their skills-set. Skills competitions are organised by the Ministry of Education at the zonal and national levels to unearth the technological talent in Ghanaian youths. Recent winners of some of these competitions were sponsored by the nation to participate in the World Skills Africa Competition held in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. Participants from Ghana returned with awards – gold, silver and bronze – in different categories. Some winners of the competition were later flown to Italy by the state to train in mechatronics. These trainees are currently in the country and leading in the development of robotic arms to train other youths.

Recommendations

In view of the myriad challenges weighing against the successful and meaningful contribution of technical and vocational education and training to Ghana’s economy, the following recommendations are proffered:

  • The Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training must develop mechanisms to effectively educate the general public on the importance of technical and vocational education and training in the Ghanaian context; and its significant contribution to national development. The education should clear erroneous impressions held by a section of Ghanaians about technical and vocational education and training. Intensive education and campaigns by COTVET will improve existing students’ appreciation for the profession, and attract new entrants.

Similarly, individuals in the informal sector will be encouraged considerably if the economic and social benefits of engaging in technical and vocational training are effectively explained to them. Overall, the effectiveness of the foregoing will enhance the achievement of one main objectives of the Education Ministry – that is, encouraging the youth to identify and appreciate TVET as the first and not the last academic resort toward their career development. The ‘My TVET Campaign’ can serve a useful purpose in this regard.

  • COTVET must take proactive steps to gradually transition artisans in the informal sector to the formal sector. Stated differently, COTVET should liaise with master artisans in the informal sector; identify trained artisans with academic potentials, and make the necessary arrangement for them to acquire formal education in addition to the training in their specialised fields. This would ease their mode of interaction with clients. Through formal education, trained artisans’ mode of transacting business with their clients is likely to improve considerably.

Steps initiated by the Ministry of Education to harmonise, co-ordinate, regulate, standardise and improve on instructional delivery in the TVET sector are worth acknowledging. Challenges confronting the TVET sector in prior and recent years were enormous; and any political administration that deems it expedient to alleviate the plight of the sector deserves support and encouragement from all key and relevant stakeholders, including the citizenry.

  • Presently, the National Vocational Training Institute has some arrangements that allow artisans trained in the informal sector to enrol and earn a certificate in their specialised field. COTVET can complement efforts of the NVTI by introducing similar programmes in other institutions, both public and private. COTVET must ensure activities of artisans in the informal sector are effectively coordinated under its umbrella; the collaboration between the formal and informal sectors must be strong to accelerate the development and growth of TVET in the country. Perhaps the introduction of the Competency-Based Training programme is a prototype; it could address the foregoing challenges in the TVET sector.
  • It is often said learning is an ongoing process, implying the need for trainers to be constantly abreast of contemporary trends and technology in their specialised fields to facilitate their interaction and imparting of theoretical and practical knowledge to trainees. It is therefore refreshing to note that equipment secured for the technical universities, polytechnics, and the tertiary institution dedicated solely to the training of lecturers and facilitators meet industry 4.0 standards and allow for re-training of trainers. It is hoped this initiative will eliminate the high incidence of theoretical instruction rather than practical application in many TVET institutions, and push the country closer to addressing the technological challenges posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • Pupils at the pre-Junior High School (JHS) level must be educated on the importance of technical and vocational training. Information on available career opportunities should be disclosed to pre-JHS pupils, to whip-up their enthusiasm and adequately condition them to embrace the TVET concept at JHS level and beyond. The success stories of some citizens whose eminence is predicated on technical and vocational education and training should be made known to the pupils. This will increase enrolment rates and facilitate the implementation of the Free TVET programme at the secondary level across the country. To this end, initiatives of the Education Ministry to implement its programme on Career Guidance and Counselling to propagate the significance of skills and TVET at the basic level of our educational system is in order.
  • Indeed, the quantum of resources – financial, energy and structures – totalling about GH¢3billion invested into TVET in recent periods attests to the President Nana Akufo-Addo administration’s resolve to elevate TVET to higher echelons of the nation’s educational strata. There is no gainsaying that the overarching idea is to ensure TVET does not play second-fiddle to the mainstream secondary education. The concerted effort of all and sundry is required to make the huge investment in TVET socio-economically beneficial.
  • The minds of trainees in the formal and informal sectors must be psychologically conditioned to prepare adequately for the challenges associated with TVET at all levels. There is no gainsaying successful technical and vocational education and training hinges on tactfulness, thoughtfulness, concentration and commitment, among others, on the part of the learner or trainee. Due to the foregoing qualities, some individuals opine TVET is very difficult. To resolve this debilitating issue, COTVET – in collaboration with the various technical and vocational institutions – can organise seminars for technical and vocational students and trainees.
  • COTVET must be adequately resourced, financially, by the Ministry of Education through the Ghana Education Service or through the TVET Service when it becomes fully operational, to enable COTVET to provide all the needed support (equipment and expertise) to the various technical and vocational institutions in the country. Evidently, an institution that lacks the basic implements required to ensure the realisation of set objectives will have a daunting task on hand; realisation of set objectives may be a mirage, and not a reality.

To avert a lack-lustre performance, elected governments – through the sector ministry and department – must strive to consistently meet the financial and other significant needs of COTVET. The massive investment of GH¢3billion in TVET attests to a paradigm shift from the financial famine that has consistently plagued COTVET and the development of TVET in the country. The whopping investment (GH¢3billion) has set standards and raised the bar on investment in TVET programmes. Now, sustainability remains the watchword.

  • The 21st century and beyond is characterised by advanced technological standards. Use of sophisticated technical and vocational tools is the order of the day. To this end, training individuals in TVET should be based on a scientific approach; modern equipment must be acquired to replace the dilapidated and obsolete ones used as a medium of practical instruction.

Thus, the current administration’s decision to construct thirty-two state-of-the-art TVET institutions, and to re-tool all the technical universities and polytechnics through the establishment of modern laboratories and workshops, deserves commendation. The laboratory and workshop equipment is tailored to meet contemporary industry standards and equip students with industry-relevant skills. It is hoped successive elected governments will deem it necessary to improve on the sector’s development to enhance its eventual contribution to national growth while remaining very competitive at the global level.

  • Continuous development of the technical and vocational education and training sector is very paramount. As a result, in addition to the preceding point, there is a clarion call on industries, non-governmental organisations, and alumni of various technical and vocational education and training institutions who are indirect and direct beneficiaries of TVET to contribute their modest quota to its development. Successful alumni can donate tools, equipment; or construct blocks toward the development and expansion of their respective TVET institutions.
  • As indicated earlier, some students enrolled in vocational institutions in the country do not take examinations in English and mathematics. This affects their ability to be admitted directly into tertiary institutions. For instance, to enrol at the polytechnic level, a vocational school graduate has to take the advanced course, Stroke Two, to qualify. Some students describe the current academic arrangement as worrying and disenchanting. To ensure direct entry into tertiary institutions (polytechnics, technical universities, and non-technical universities) by pre-tertiary TVET students, there is need for a review of the curricula for technical and vocational institutions, including NVTI, to include English and mathematics in the programme and in final examinations.
  • Availability of jobs in the ‘non-technical’ sector of the Ghanaian economy is either non-existent or very scarce. However, the reverse is true in the case of the TVET sector. This presents the relevant ministry, departments, and agencies with an opportunity to encourage more individuals into technical and vocational education and training to equitably distribute the nation’s human capital among the various sectors. This would ensure efficiency, and by extension, increased productivity.

Equitable distribution of the nation’s human capital would minimise, if not completely eliminate redundancy and over-concentration of human capital in a particular area of the economy. The relevant ministries should actively engage industries and graduates to ensure effective absorption of the latter into the job market. Ghana is very good at policy formulation, but poor at implementation. This unfortunate trend must change; and it is hoped the implementation of Free TVET coupled with other continental engagements, such as active participation in the Fund for the Development of Education in Africa, will mark the beginning.

The writer is a Chartered Economist/Business Consultant

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