Oil palm industry gets curriculum to train the youth

Nicholas Issaka Gbana, Programme Manager for SWAPP II, speaking at the Technical Upskill training workshop to build the capacity of tutors for the competency-based training

Solidaridad, through its Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme (SWAPP II), funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana and Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, has partnered the Ghana Skill Development Initiative project to develop a curriculum and learning materials for competency-based training in oil palm.

Targeted at the youth, the curriculum is aimed at equipping learners with the requisite skill set for the oil palm industry, and training entrepreneurs to set up businesses in the oil palm value chain. This is to boost employment opportunities in the sector, as well as enhance Ghana’s potential of becoming a global player in palm oil production.

The competency-based training, which is under the Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET) initiative of the Government of Ghana has been accredited by Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), the national regulator.

Designed to fit the National Competency one and two of the national Technical and Vocational Education Training qualification framework, the training will be offered in six modules – nursery establishment, land preparation and plantation establishment, harvesting, farm management, plant protection and chemical application, and processing and quality assurance. Each module would be delivered over a four-week period with about 30 percent of instruction time spent at an accredited school, and 70 percent at a workplace or enterprise.

Persons to be admitted into the programme must be literate and should have a minimum qualification of a Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), they should be working in the oil palm industry or have an interest in the sector.

Four educational institutions – University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Asuansi Technical Institute, and Father Dogli Memorial Technical and Vocational Institute, have so far been supported by Solidaridad to get accredited by the council to run the training programme. Kpando Technical Institute has also gained accreditation.

In addition, 11 enterprises, including plantations and oil mills, have enrolled to participate in the programme as workplace learning centres to provide the mandatory practical attachment required by the competency-based training curriculum. These include, Benso Oil Palm Plantation, Juaben Oil Mills, Volta Red, B-Bovid, Ghana Oil Palm Development Company, NORPALM, Amo Palm Ventures, Oil Palm Research Institute, Twifo Oil Palm Plantation, and Agro Quorum.

The training is expected to be rolled out this year, with an initial enrolment of 500 youth learners sponsored by the Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme with funding from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Learners will be selected from communities in the oil palm growing belt of Ghana participating in Solidaridad’s oil palm programme, workers from enterprises hosting learners, and tertiary graduates from the participating schools.

Solidaridad in partnership with Ghana Skill Development Initiative and COTVET organized a five-day technical upskilling training workshop for lecturers and tutors from the five accredited educational institutions. It also purchased and supplied special agricultural tools, equipment, furniture, computers, and projectors to the five schools.

The Programme Manager for SWAPP at Solidaridad, Nicholas Issaka Gbana, said the competency-based training forms part of the skills for employment component of the oil palm programme which is being implemented in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire from 2018 to 2021.

“The oil palm sector, just like many other sectors in the economy, lacks skilled personnel and the youth do not also have the required skills to be employed. Our focus is, therefore, to provide adequate technical and vocational training to the youth to equip them with the skills for employment within the sector,” Mr. Gbana said.

“With support from our funding partners, the oil palm programme will pay the full cost of training for the 500 learners,” he added, noting that there are enterprises in the oil palm industry ready to employ learners who would complete the training.

The Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme seeks to contribute to the transformation of the oil palm sector in West Africa, increase incomes of smallholder farmers and processors, and generate economic growth and jobs. It is part of Solidaridad’s global agenda of building sustainable production for palm oil and other commodities. 

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