The labour market in the 21st Century has become more specialised while economies demand higher levels of skill. This has compelled businesses and governments globally to increase their investments in technical and vocational training to secure its future. Some of the initiatives, notably from government perspective, include increased public funding in training organisations and subsidised apprenticeship or traineeship for businesses.
A report issued by the British Institute of Public Policy Research in recent years indicated that demand for medium-skilled jobs requiring technical and vocational qualifications would increase in the next 10 years. 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 and industry.
Available statistics from the Ghana Education Service (GES) on pre-tertiary technical and vocational institutions in Ghana revealed the establishment of about 160 public technical and vocational institutions, including 22 technical institutes. 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 force in those countries.
Emerging economies such as Ghana would have to emulate the sterling examples of the Asian Tigers in the area of technical and vocational training. Sound investment in technical and vocational education and training would yield the desired dividend. It would help train more people to meet the manpower needs of the country and possibly, have surplus to export.
Indeed, Ghana needs skilled labour force to maintain her houses, bridges, railroads or railways, and roads. To address to the growing technical skills requirement of the country, the Ghana Skills Development Initiative was founded. The initiative, a German Government assisted project being implemented in co-operation with the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training aims at building capacity in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy, Ghana's informal sector is noted for employing about 90 per cent of the active labour force.
If Ghana is to derive maximum benefits from technical and vocational training, there should be a change in attitude towards it. For instance an erroneous impression that students who often enrol in technical and vocational programmes are academically weak should be discarded. The situation is exacerbated further by some parents who do not subscribe to their wards’ decision to pursue careers in technical and vocational training. Excessive reliance on theory rather than practice due to lack of practical equipment in many institutions is not good for the promotion of technical and vocational training in developing economies, including Ghana.
The situation where students enrolled in some vocational training programmes do not read and take national examinations in English and mathematic should be reviewed. This is because it affects their smooth transition from one level of the academic ladder to the other. The 21st century is characterised by advanced technological standards. Use of sophisticated technical and vocational tools is the order of the day.
To this end, training of individuals in TVET should be based on scientific approach in addition to modern equipment practical instruction. Indeed, the continuous development of the technical and vocational education and training sector is very paramount. This is because availability of jobs in the “non-technical” sector of the Ghanaian economy is either non-existent or very scarce while the reverse is true in the case of the TVET sector. This presents the Government 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 to ensure increased productivity.
The Government should actively engage industries and graduates to ensure the effective absorption of technical and vocational graduates into the job market.
BY: DR. EBENEZER M. ASHLEY, LEAD CONSULTANT / CEO EBEN CONSULTANCY FELLOW & COUNCIL MEMBER, INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED ECONOMISTS OF GHANA (ICEG).
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