As we ponder about finding lasting solutions to our growing army of unemployed graduates and other school leavers, who are flooding daily into the cities and towns of Ghana in search of non-existent employment opportunities, it is becoming abundantly clear that our educational system should be focusing more on imparting useful skills training to our youth.
This would enable them to meet the demands of the changing job market, and thus make them employable.
Graduates from our secondary and tertiary institutions are learning the bitter truth, that in today’s global economy, it is much more desirable to be armed with relevant skill sets before embarking on any job hunt.
In a viral WhatsApp video, the CEO of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, Mr Senyo Hosi, at the 70th anniversary stakeholders meeting of the University of Ghana, stated that he was unable to hire graduates from his own alma mater, as the institution was churning out people with degrees, but not the relevant skills for the future.
In another viral WhatsApp video of the Quiz Mistress of the National Science and Maths Quiz, Dr Elsie Effah Kaufmann, on the KSM Show, she bemoaned the inability of the best and brightest of her studentcs to translate theories, wonderful ideas, into useful outcomes.
With today’s digital advances and social media, and the pervasive corruption at all levels, it is almost impossible to prevent the perennial leaking of examination question papers.
It is my opinion that in this day and age when information is easily accessible with ICT-enabled devices, there is no need for academic or professional examinations that rely on memorising ideas which can easily be accessed online.
Indeed, the era when “chew, pour, pass and forget” was the norm, should be discarded.
The emphasis of any modern educational system or learning environment should be placed on how to assess and evaluate relevant information from appropriate sources online and how to utilise such information to solve a problem at hand.
We must institute continuous assessment of students, through classwork and projects; in this COVID-19 era, the teacher must have the needed tools to directly interact with students via Zoom or a combination of face-to-face and virtual online learning methods.
The result should always be to assess the interest and ability of the students, and guide them towards acquiring skills on any possible areas of human endeavour.
All skills can be taught with patience and consistency, especially when we are already in the 4th Industrial Revolution — this has ushered in developments in genetics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology and possible future implantation of microchips into human brains, to interface that to most external data and information.
To the extent possible, all students must be exposed to courses in computer coding — as the Chinese have begun, with kids as young as five years old.
Yes, we should prepare our students to leapfrog into the future — which is already here with us.
So, what is the way forward? Skills training and promotion through competitions. We must institute on-the-job training and apprenticeship programmes.
As much as possible, students should be prepared to start any job programme as an apprentice; they must thoroughly learn the skills and standards that are necessary for the job.
When employed, they must expect continual training and re-training - due to the changing nature of the technological landscape and the evolving world economy - so as to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the enterprise.
Trainees, who can arrange for bank assistance or solicit for start-up capital, must be encouraged to start their own businesses or enterprises, particularly in the underserved areas of the country, so as to spread job availability and development to all corners of the country.
The variously instituted youth programmes, including the Youth Enterprise Support (YES), Youth Employment Agency (YEA), National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), etc., should be coordinated to enhance start-up businesses in various enterprises for the youth across the country.
Some teachers should be trained as career guidance specialists at all schools, colleges and universities, to identify and assist students to develop their interests and career paths.
The Commission for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (CTVET) is a body established by the Education Regulatory Bodies Act (Act 1023) of 2020 to regulate, promote and administer Technical, Vocational Education and Training for transformation and innovation for sustainable development of the country.
As part of efforts to promote skills training and development for industrialisation, the Commission has been organising Zonal and National Skills Competitions in the country.
Ghana is now a member of the WorldSkills International (WSI), which is the global hub for promoting skills development in its member states.
In pursuance of its role to undertake skills training and promotion, CTVET, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, is organised the WorldSkills Ghana National Skills Competition and TVET EXPO, 2021, from October 26 to 29, 2021 at the Accra Technical Training Centre (ATTC), Kokomlemle.
The National Skills Competitions aimmed at inspiring world-class excellence in skills development and introducing the youth to a variety of skill careers.
There was be 14 skills areas, namely: welding, bricklaying, carpentry, auto-body repair, mechatronics, electrical installation, automobile technology, mechanical engineering cad, IT software solution for business, graphic design technology, cooking, fashion technology, beauty therapy and hairdressing.
Other skills that deserve to be highlighted and encouraged in Ghana include honey making - the whole world is moving away from sugar, because of health risks.
The market for honey is huge, and our all-year tropical climate gives us an advantage for honey production and export.
(Ref: Beekeeping In Ghana - A Step By Step Guide In Starting Beekeeping In Ghana; Thefarmdreams.com)
Harvesting and installation of rainwater gutters: A moderate rainfall of about one millimetre per hour yields about one litre of water for every square metre of space.
There are many You-tube videos on how to install roof gutters.
Snail farming: Snails have always been a part of our diet and a source of animal protein.
Snail farming is new, but could be a very profitable business venture for our youth, since the demand for snail meat is always high. (https://www.financewithdes.com/snail-farming-in-ghana).
Small-scale pure water production for villages and towns which rely on polluted rivers and other water sources.
The technology for making solar energy based water purifiers is not very complex (Solar energy based water purification system — https://www.acadpubl.eu/hub/2018-119-12/articles/3/685.pdf).
The writer is a retired engineer, IAEA,Consultant KERSL, Spintex Road,E-mail: Laalakofi@hotmail.co.uk