Over the past few years, many experts in education and industry have emphasised the need for a paradigm shift towards Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as an important step for enhancing job prospects for young people and positioning them to achieve sustainable livelihoods.
Among others, TVET has the potential to promote the productive participation of many young people in the labour market by equipping them with the critical skills for employment or entrepreneurship.
The TVET sector remains the most practical avenue for acquiring readily-employable skills for the world of work. People with qualifications in TVET can be productively engaged in the building and construction industry, power and energy, sanitation systems, agro-processing, hospitality, clothing and textiles, as well as metal work and fabrication fields.
In spite of the huge potential to contribute to job creation and socio-economic development, many students in Ghana are less-likely to enrol in TVET because of a negative perception of the sector. More critical is the low number of women participating in the sector, particularly in historically male-dominated fields.
Successive governments have implemented strategies to promote TVET in order for the nation to benefit from a work force with a practical skills base, but these efforts have achieved marginal results. Any effort, therefore, to promote TVET in Ghana, will have to begin with a comprehensive approach to address the low image and negative perception which together conspire to make the sector unattractive for students, particularly females.
In addition to the image and perception challenge, there is also the issue of fragmented coordination and oversight of the TVET sector. For instance there are over 288 public pre-tertiary and tertiary TVET institutions spread under 19 ministries and another 180 TVET institutions in the private sector. This affects effective coordination and governance of the sector.
‘My TVET Campaign’
In spite of the bottlenecks, a major initiative designed to promote TVET in Ghana is the ‘My TVET policies for skills development across the broad spectrum of pre-tertiary and tertiary education in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy. The ‘My TVET Campaign’ is being implemented to change the negative perceptions among Ghanaians of TVET, increase enrolment in TVET institutions, and produce highly-skilled Campaign’ initiated by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), the body mandated to formulate national and talented young people for Ghana’s industrial development.
The goal is to inspire world-class excellence in skills development and to introduce the youth to a variety of skilled careers under five components comprising: skills competition; career guidance and counselling; TVET ambassadors’ programme/role modelling; formation of TVET clubs in junior high schools; and promotion of TVET and TVET materials through communications.
Under the aegis of an existing partnership between the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) and COTVET, the two organisations will work to promote TVET in Ghana through joint efforts under the ‘My TVET Campaign’. The commitment to support TVET aligns with CAMFED’s partnership with the Mastercard Foundation for the implementation of the Young Africa Works strategy in Ghana. CAMFED will, over the next three years, equip 210,000 young people (girls and boys) with work-readiness skills, and directly enable 120,000 young people to secure dignified and fulfilling employment.
Skills education and training represent the way forward as the world struggles to cope with increasing youth unemployment. If Ghana is to pursue aggressive industrialisation as successive governments have sought to do, we must recognise that technical skills will be key in driving that agenda. We must position TVET at the centre of our industrial policy to put the country on a sound footing for industrial take-off. In this vein, the approval of the strategic plan for the development of TVET in Ghana and the re-alignment of all public TVET institutions under the Ministry of Education to ensure proper coordination is welcome news.
CAMFED and COTVET will work together to ensure that TVET takes its right of place in Ghana’s educational system.
The writer is the Head of Programmes at CAMFED Ghana