Perceptions about technical vocational education and training (TVET) being the reserve for people who are not academically inclined still remains a challenge despite recent investments and renewed efforts to make TVET the focus of the educational system in line with the country’s industrial aspirations.
This, coupled with lack of coordination between the government and private sector in the development of curriculum and training of students – according to Appiah Wiafe Adofo, Programme Director of Innovation in Non-Traditional Vocation Education and Skill Training (INVEST) project, a five-year initiative by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) that aims to train 5000 young women in TVET across the country – are major the disconnects in development identified three years into the project’s implementation.
Asked what the missing links are in the quest to transform the TVET space, she said: “I think there are two main challenges. One of them is the negative perception of TVET in general in the country. Most people still think TVET is for people who did not perform well in school, meanwhile you need to be strong in Mathematics and Science to venture into TVET. So, I think the perception of the TVET is one of the huge plots”.
“The second thing is the lack of coordination between the public sector and the private sector. There is an avenue for bringing in industry to contribute to the development of curriculum and training. So far, this has not been done in the most practical way,” Ms. Wiafe Adofo stated.
With title or no involvement of industry in the development of curriculum and the training of students, she lamented that there continues to exist a gulf between TVET education – classroom lessons and the needs of industries, a situation which has the potential to derail the industrial aspirations of the country if not addressed urgently.
“What I’m basically saying is that you can make the curriculum relevant and train students to the best you want; but if you are not training in skill areas that industry needs, then it is still not useful. This is the other major disconnect,” she told the B&FT during an INVEST project review workshop in Accra.
To make TVET education align with the industrialisation goals of the economy, Ms. Wiafe Adofo called for a change in how society views TVET education and profession, emphasising the need for more technical hands in the country’s development.
In addition to this, she underscored the significance of industry and decision-makers working hand in hand to tailor curriculum and TVET training to the current and future needs of industry.
Apart from this, she advocated increased sensitisation for young people to enable them to understand the available opportunities and the kind of training required to take advantage of them.
“There are a whole number of young people who are not informed about opportunities and the kind of training they need to take advantage of these opportunities,” she further noted.
The INVEST project by WUSC – an international non-governmental organisation, aims to facilitate women entry into the labour market, particularly male-dominated disciplines, utilising technical vocational education and training at zero cost to beneficiaries.
So far, Madam Wiafe Adolfo disclosed at the workshop that more than half – 2,900 – of the 5000 target has been achieved, with its organisers confident that the set number will be realised by the March 2025 deadline. “We targeted 5000 young women to be reached through different pathways, including access to skills training, access to financial support, access to business supporting services like entrepreneurship as well as mentorship and coaching.”
She expressed appreciation for the support from industry and other key stakeholders, adding that the project has been hugely successful. “We have received resounding support from the industries that we work with and we hope to continue creating an enabling environment for women to thrive,” she said.
The five-year project will end in March 2025.