Education Opinion

State of National TVET

Reluctance Towards Vocational Training Contributes to High Unemployment Rates - C/R TVET Coordinator

TVET has been identified in the modern educational discourse around the world as the paradigm-shifting factor in transforming traditionally academic-oriented societies into skills-based productive economies that can provide the expanding youth population with useful and easily marketable skills.

In fact, the current global trend and demand of industries and economic development have much focus on hands-on skills training, which has awakened some youth to move into technical and vocational training across the globe.

Metro Lens

In view of this, the agenda of the Government of Ghana to promote technical and vocational education and training (TVET) as a key educational outcome is highly laudable.

This is because considering the increasing rate of Ghana’s population, coupled with the surge in the rate of youth and graduate unemployment, staying on the TVET path is the surest way to avert the ever-increasing crisis of youth unemployment in the country.

The need for skills education or training that would equip the youth with essential employable and entrepreneurial skills has been on the table in Ghana for the past few decades.

Undoubtedly, the commitment shown by the government in recent times to promote TVET is highly commendable.

However, recent evidence shows that many of the TVET subsectors in both second-cycle and tertiary institutions are in limbo when it comes to prerequisite tools or machines, infrastructure and even industrial exposure that can sharpen the skills and provide learners with a practical understanding of the demand for industries.

Study

A study conducted by the Baraka Policy Institute (BPI), a social policy Think Tank, on the state of TVET in Ghana in 2021 revealed, among other things, that technical and vocational institutions in Ghana are not well-resourced and are, therefore, struggling to deliver on their mandate.

The study further revealed that there was no proper coordination between TVET institutions and industries.

These findings from the BPI study are quite worrisome, as the lack of relevant facilities needed for effective TVET programmes negatively impacts the quality of training students receive.

Hands-on skill development needs effective and regular practical sessions that enable students to become well-equipped to fit into industry demands.

In fact, many students, during their stay at the school, do not even have access to workshops, let alone think of handling tools for practice as the BPI study reveals.

Interestingly, some schools that have workshops and equipment are in an old-fashioned state, and their presence only appears to be for exhibition purposes or for students to see and identify the names of equipment therein.

Revamping TVET agenda

One of the key motives of the TVET agenda is to accelerate the rapid industrialisation of the country and these TVET institutions cannot do it alone.

The apparent lack of coordination, therefore, means that there will be a mismatch in the skills acquired and the needs of the industry, which would eventually make the industries not employ them or call for their services.

Global best practices demand that there is always a strong collaboration between industry and TVET institutions.

For instance, in Germany, the technical and vocational training system requires that before a TVET institution is accepted, it must sign a mentorship programme with a company to provide on-the-job training to trainees.

This is not happening in Ghana regularly. In fact, there is no evidence of such concrete and sustained attachment arrangement between TVET institutions and the industry in the country.

One key dimension to this is that the presence of a strong TVET–industry coordination, as it prevails in Germany, would imply students would have the opportunity to have frequent practical training and would, therefore, be abreast with the operations of new machines and equipment in this era of ever-changing phases of technological advancements.

Ghana must prioritise effective collaboration between industries and TVET institutions to bridge the gap in mentorship and practical training which is affecting graduates’ chances of being well-equipped for the job market.

Another important issue revealed in the BPI research is the apparent shift of concentration of courses pursued by higher TVET institutions, particularly technical universities.

Many have asked about the mandate of technical universities in Ghana.

It is an interesting observation that most technical universities have essentially drifted away from their core mandate of producing hands-on technical experts for national development, and are now into more social sciences programmes.

Many of these technical universities do not offer some of the TVET programmes but have the space to offer courses in social sciences or humanities.

It is not surprising that highly trained professionals in some artisanship like plumbing, tilling and auto mechanics, among others, appear to be lacking in the building industry and domestic usage.

To some extent, this partly contributes to the lack of interest among youth who wish to pursue hands-on skills at a higher professional level.

Action

Ghana’s efforts as a country in revamping the TVET sector indicate that there is a commitment to shaping TVET in Ghana and making it better.

This is evident in the recent retooling of many TVET schools with modern state-of-the-art equipment.

However, much more needs to be done.

There are still many schools that lack workshops let alone to talk about modern equipment.

Again, CTVET or any other relevant agency acting on behalf of the government must initiate and intensify internship and partnership arrangements with the industry on behalf of TVET institutions.

Again, mandated regulatory authorities should ensure that technical universities focus mainly on their primary mandate of training and producing artisans and technical experts who will spearhead the country’s industrialisation and development efforts.

*The article is by the Baraka Policy Institute (BPI), a social policy Think Tank with a particular focus on educational outcomes for the underprivileged.

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