Government has officially commenced a nationwide programme aimed at preserving and upgrading the human capital and skills of the current cohort of workers who lost their employment or are underemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the auspices of National Unemployment Insurance Scheme (NUIS), the project – which is a key component of the GhanaCARES ‘Obaatan Pa’ Programme – government from next month will see to it that some workers receive fresh training; and ensure those who received some form of training earlier are properly retrained to remain relevant in these times.
At the launch of the programme, Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta said the training and retraining programme is focused on skills upgrading, work ethics, productivity and attitudinal change.
“To preserve and upgrade the human capital of Ghanaian workers – particularly those that were affected by the pandemic – and to facilitate their re-entry into productive employment at higher levels of performance, government together with social partners decided to frontload the Training and Retraining Programme,” Mr. Ofroi-Atta said.
The programme will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will cover workers in the sectors that were mostly affected by the pandemic, namely the private education and tourism and hospitality sectors. The training and retraining programme’s second phase will cover other sectors of the economy, with emphasis on vocational and technical training.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted negatively on all sectors of the economy, but more so on the tourism and hospitality sector and private education sector. According to the first round of the COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey undertaken by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), about 65.4 percent of institutions in the education sector closed down during the lockdown; and several schools remained closed even after the lockdown was lifted.
Similarly, the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) estimated that at the end of April 2020, 23 percent of workers in the hospitality industry had lost their jobs; with a quarter of this estimate (25 percent) emanating from the restaurants and hotels sub-sector.
Since the first round of the Business Tracker Survey conducted in June 2020, two more surveys have been conducted: in September 2020 and September 2021. Though results from the two surveys showed reduced impact of the pandemic on business closures and employment, the private education and tourism and hospitality sectors were still heavily impacted by the pandemic.
Highlighting funding under the programme, the minster revealed that government is funding the training and retraining programme’s cost. “Government will therefore pay the fees of workers who enrol in the programme.”
The NUIS, which is currently in the design phase, is a social insurance scheme conceived primarily as a contributory scheme with defined benefit for the sole purpose of providing income support and re-employment services to workers who involuntarily become unemployed due to unexpected future events – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – and meet specified eligibility criteria.
The NUIS is housed under the GH¢100billion ‘Obaatan Pa’ GhanaCARES Programme designed to mitigate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, return the economy to a sustained path of robust growth, and create a more resilient and transformed economy.
“In meeting our obligations to workers and Ghanaians in general, we continue to implement programmes that seek to enhance the skills and welfare of workers. We are ensuring skills development that meets demands of the Ghanaian labour market and promotes decent work,” the minister said.
The Training and Retraining Programme was developed through extensive consultations between government and key stakeholders comprising representatives from the Ministry Finance, Ministry of Employment & Labour Relations, Organised Labour and Ghana Employers Association.
Other stakeholders include the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS), Ghana National Council of Private Schools (GNACOPS) and Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) among others.