Today is World Youth Skills Day. We draw attention to a new era defined by a new set of needs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and the need to adapt strategies to meet such challenges and needs. The celebration emphasises the need to ensure continuity of skills development and introduce training programmes to bridge skills gaps. One sector that contributes significantly to bridging the skills gap is technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
In Ghana, government and development partners like the German Development Cooperation are committed to this cause. For starters, Ghana has seen the re-arrangement and de-fragmentation of a sector administration where over 400 institutions were previously supervised under 19 different ministries. This is a Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, with funding support from the European Union and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. GSDI is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in cooperation with the Commission for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (CTVET), and other public and private sector stakeholders.
As we mark World Youth Day, the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation adds voice to the cause of skills development. The Special Initiative is an intervention of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); it operates under the brand Invest for Jobs and is implemented by GIZ, the KfW Development Bank, among others.
An estimated 85% of Ghana’s economically active population engages in self-employment in the informal economy, which offers inadequate income opportunities and high levels of insecurity (International Trade Centre, 2016). The informal sector hosts a range of potential youth who usually gain their skills through traditional apprenticeship within the traditional vocational training system; a system that ensures employment for over 90% of the Ghanaian workforce.
The core role of Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in enhancing the informal sector and in offering skills and knowledge to the unskilled cannot be underestimated (UNESCO, 2018). The gender dimension of the TVET structure also poses a challenge; for some countries, TVET is regarded as a reserve of the male gender, resulting in serious omissions in national government development plans.
Promoting inclusion and decent job creation
The ‘Network for Enterprise Development Learning through Sewing (NEEDLES) for Girls – N4G
Many underprivileged young women have migrated from their rural homes to cities in search of economic activities; they are exposed to poor living conditions and lack of social protection. The Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation in collaboration with the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Projects (SEHP) and the Ghana Export-Import Bank (GEXIM BANK) implements the N4G project, which aims to address the lack of qualified workers in Ghana’s fashion and textile industry. The project supports women with vocational training up to international standards, as well as soft skills training delivered by well-established, reputable fashion companies. The project seeks to train 1,000 girls through reputable fashion companies in different trade areas such as dressmaking, machining, pattern-drafting, fashion accessories and make-up artistry.
Professionalisation of Artisans (ProfArts)
The construction sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Ghanaian economy. Despite the growth and job potential of this sector, it is often confronted with lack of qualified workers. Further, the global construction sector is becoming increasingly technologically advanced and Ghana’s artisans have to become more competitive. The Special Initiative, Vodafone Ghana Limited, Robert Bosch Ghana, and the Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG) jointly designed and implement the ProfArts project to ‘professionalise’ the skills of existing artisans within the construction sector and its value chain.
Other key partners are the Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE) as well as uvex safety Germany. Through this intervention, the target group will gain access to a larger customer network and be better equipped to meet the changing work requirements resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 2,000 artisans will benefit from these support measures by end of 2021.
Youth skills development at Don Bosco Technical Institute
The Don Bosco Technical Institute in Tema-Ghana, with support from the Special Initiative, offers short-term trainings to less privileged and determined youth. The training programmes are in the areas of Automobile, Electrical & Electronics, Hospitality and Logistics & Warehousing. The programme aims to improve competitiveness and capabilities of trainees to enhance their employability, thereby closing the skills gap for the industry. An important aspect of the training programme is the placement support offered to graduates. At present, a pilot batch of 53 trainees have successfully completed their training and been placed in 21 companies for attachment. Several of the students are already exhibiting signs of promise and their host companies intend to maintain them. The objective is to train 2,000 individuals and place 70% of them by the end of 2022.
As we mark World Skills Youth Day 2021 under the theme ‘Reimagining Youth Skills Post Pandemic’ we reemphasise the need to reimagine solutions in a way that considers not only the realities of the present, but also the full range of possibilities for the future (UNESCO, 2021).