The principal objective of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is to train young people and prepare them for the labor market. However, revolutions in technical skills and innovations in science and technology as well as labor market needs have evolved significantly. These changes have occasioned new challenges that require an upgrade of the TVET system to match up with the evolving changes. In that regard, several countries are in the process of reforming their education systems, with a view to training the youth not only to meet national demands, but regional and even international market needs.
In Africa and Ghana in particular, TVET has been identified as a critical tool to address youth unemployment and partly contain instability. Especially considering the rising youth population in the last decade.
It is also important to note that the contribution of youth bulges to violence and instabilities is real and have even been statistically confirmed. In the 1990’s, the theory of the threat to peace and security by youth bulges assumed a different argument. Leading this argument, Samuel P. Huntington in his book Clash of Civilizations noted that the tipping point that could lead countries to experience violence and instabilities was a youth population of at least 20%. In 2006, Henrik Urdal added to the debate suggesting that youth unemployment even makes countries more vulnerable.
The situation of youth bulges in Africa has attracted global attention. Approximately 40% of Africa’s population is under the age of 15, compared to a global average of 25%. In addition, 60% of its population is under the age of 25 years. In Ghana, the youth population is over 38% according to the 2021 Population and Housing Census. Out of this, an estimated 25% of the youth were Not in Employment Education of Training (NEET) across the first three quarters of 2022 under the Annual Household Income and Expenditure Survey.
Against this background, having a youthful population that exceeds Huntington’s threshold by 18% in addition to 25% unemployment rate among the youth could be extremely dangerous signal for Ghana’s peace and security. Therefore, as part of Ghana’s effort to deal with this growing dangerous phenomenon, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) have been given critical attention as one of the areas to focus on to tap into the demographic dividends and reduce youth unemployment thereby containing the possibility of conflicts and instabilities arising from the youth group.
Recognizing the immense benefits that Ghana can gain from promoting TVET, a massive reformation process touted as “revamping the TVET sector” began in the last 5 years. This reformation focused on infrastructure development, provision of modern equipment, upgrades of training institutions, establishment of skills centers and funding for training and entrepreneurship among others.
At a TVET forum held by FOSDA in 2021, Government indicated that a total of $1 billion had been spent on the reformation process which has led to significant successes. This expenditure is spread across the following…
- Investment in infrastructure to increase access and improve on quality through;
- Upgrading and modernization of all National Vocational training Institutes (NVTIs) and Opportunity Industrialization Center (OIC)
- Construction of three Foundries and Machining centers in Accra and Kumasi
- Upgrading of 17 Technical and Vocational Institutes
- Building of an office to improve on TVET Examination
- Infrastructure and equipment for Technical Universities to achieve quality delivery at the Tertiary Level with industry 4.0 standards.
- Construction of Five (5) new district TVET Centers
- Constructing 32 new State-Of-The-Art TVET Centers of Excellence
- Two for each of 16 regions
- Development of Education Regulatory Bodies Act 1023 as well as the establishment of the TVET Service under Pre-Tertiary Education Act 1049 which established the Commission on TVET and realigns all pre-tertiary TVET institutions to the ministry of Education respectively.
- Developed a National Apprenticeship policy, which provides robust regulatory framework for meaningful partnerships, social dialogue, institutional arrangements among the key stakeholders, and strong labor market relevance.
- Conducted a skill gap analysis and audit in 10 skill areas
- Improving Quality TVET Delivery through;
- Accreditation of 146 training providers to implement competency-based training
- Digitized registration and accreditation system,
- Development of over 100 Competency Based Training (CBT) packages for various skilled trades on the National TVET Qualification Framework,
- Built capacity for 246 external verifiers,
- Reviewed recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy for implementation
- Created an Enforcement Unit to ensure compliance in the implementation in CBT delivery.
- Established Akenten Appiah-Menka University for Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development to train more highly skilled and qualified TVET instructors.
- Developed the Jobs and Skills Project to establish the Ghana Skill Development Fund, develop curriculum and capacity for 100 trades (professions) and provide free apprenticeship and entrepreneurial training. This project is estimated to create between 199,000 and 252,000 jobs.
- Launched my-TVET campaign to change negative perceptions about TVET in Ghana using tools such as career guidance and counselling, TVET Clubs in Junior High Schools, Skills Competitions, TVET ambassadors and role models.
- Joined the World Skills International as the 81st member, established Ghana World Skills secretariat and collaborating with World Skills Germany; and successfully organized the 2021 WorldSkills Ghana Competition, of which the winners will be participating in WorldSkills Africa and WorldSkills International Competitions in 2022.
These are laudable developmental progress! However, there appears to be over saturation of knowledge on the benefits of TVET and what has been done to develop the TVET sector in Ghana. This makes the shift to focus on accountability a lacking necessity.
But in the context of good governance, comprehensive and often updated financial and outcomes data are crucial for tracking, reporting, and evaluating Ghana’s TVET reformation progress as well as progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa’s Agenda 2063 and even the ECOWAS TVET Strategy for Skills Improvement and Employability (ETSSIE).
It should therefore be a priority of government to move beyond providing information on progress made in the TVET sector towards being more effective in terms of accounting for proper management of the resources that have been vested in their hands. Accountability in this sense should focus not only on how much has been spent under each investment area but also the status of progress, regional and district distribution of infrastructure, target beneficiaries and the transformational effects arising from the investments made.
A step towards the direction of accountability will first of all enhance efficiency in the sector, improve trust and increase citizens and stakeholders’ interest in the sector through the demonstration of evidence of the true transformational impact TVET is or has made in the lives of the youth. Accountability also ensures value for money. This could help in overturning the possible violence and instabilities and alternate the theory of the threat to peace and security by youth bulges in Ghana.
The duty bearers in the TVET sector must act now.