TVET and STEM key to future of jobs in Ghana

An overhaul of Ghana’s educational system, specifically, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) as well as the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and private sector investment are needed to address the skills gap and promote economic development in the country.

This was the subject of a one-day stakeholders’ conference on ‘Youth Employment and Skills (YES) to tackle new and old youth employment challenges in Ghana’, organized by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) in partnership with Ghana’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations on 24 April in Accra.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Education, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, said, “Ghana’s educational intervention projects through technical and vocational training in the past have been ill-programmed and lacked the political will for prosecution”. To remedy the situation, “government is undertaking structural reforms by dedicating a whole division of the education service to technical and vocational education, which could have its own Director-General,” Dr. Prempeh said.

The private sector was also identified as a key driver in improving TVET in the country. “Ghana welcomes investors who seek to collaborate with local institutions in bolstering our technical capacity and strengthening skills training in the country,” the Minister said. The minister’s speech was read by the Executive Director of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Dr. Fred Asamoah.

The Chief Operating Officer of ACET, Mr. Daniel Nti, said, “achieving decent work for all is key, not only to promoting the well-being of African youth and driving economic prosperity in the region, but also in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8, which aims to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth.”

In an overview of labour productivity in Ghana, Ms. Helen Slater, Senior Research Fellow at ACET, said, “technological changes provide opportunity for future jobs but only if workers have the right skills.” She added, “Workers in future will need foundational cognitive skills in addition to other skills for productive employment.”

Dr. George Afeti, a TVET expert, stressed the need for economic policies to address the demand side of TVET skills. According to Dr. Afeti, “TVET by itself does not automatically result in the provision of jobs. Rather, it requires an economic policy environment that promotes the creation of enterprises and stimulation of the economy.”

For his part, Dr. Might Kojo Abreh, Research Fellow at the University of Cape Coast’s Centre for Educational Research, Evaluation and Development, underscored the need for private investment in TVET. “There are significant gains to be made from positive and deliberate engagement with the private sector in delivering and designing TVET,” said Dr. Abreh in a presentation on the role of the private sector in TVET.  He said that there are opportunities for private sector partnerships in the area of curriculum design and upgrading the skills of TVET trainers.

Speaking on STEM performance and participation in Ghana, Ms. Slater emphasized curriculum reforms as a contributor to economic growth. “The curriculum must remain relevant and forward-looking to ensure the skills STEM students acquire are useful and productive in tomorrow’s economy”. She also noted the need for a strong institutional framework for the improvement of STEM in the country.

Discussions highlighted inadequate infrastructure, the disconnect between TVET and industry, gender stereotyping, inadequate funding and the poor quality of teachers as challenges facing technical and vocational training and teaching of STEM subjects. In response to the challenges, stakeholders recommended public-private partnership, awareness creation, documentation of success stories of TVET graduates, additional training for teachers, introduction of scholarship schemes and treating TVET as a business as the key to revamping TVET education in Ghana. Other discussion points were making TVET and STEM practicable, reforming the curriculum and making it gender-friendly and increased funding to both TVET AND STEM education.

Prof. Jophus Anamoah-Mensah, who moderated the event, concluded with a call to government and other stakeholders to include recommendations made at the meeting in designing and implementing policies that will address the challenges of TVET and STEM.

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