Since the National Service Scheme (NSS) came into force in 1973 and later given legitimacy by the 1979 Constitution, it has become an avenue for addressing the manpower shortfalls in the public and the private sectors.
Per the National Service Act 1980, Act 426, passed by the Third Republican Parliament, the scheme is mandated to formulate policies and structures for the effective running of the national service programme.
The benefits of national service are enormous. Averagely, the NSS deploys 100,00 personnel to various sectors of the economy, making it the body with the largest pool of skilled labour available for supply to various sectors of the economy at a particular moment.
Besides, national service exposes young graduates to the sense of civic duty and voluntarism and builds their experience before they enter the world of work. It also promotes national unity and strengthens bonds of common citizenship among Ghanaians.
However, over the years, funding for the scheme has become a burden on the central government, in view of the pressure on the national purse.
This is why we welcome the efforts being made by the current board and the management of the scheme to reposition it to meet the needs of the contemporary graduate, which has culminated in the institution of the National Service Visitation Day to allow officials of the NSS to meet and interact with service personnel across the country and user agencies on how national service is impacting the lives of personnel, user agencies and the nation at large.
Moving the scheme from its traditional mission of ‘mobilisation for deployment’ to a new strategic direction of ‘deployment for employment’, with the aim of complementing the government’s efforts at reducing graduate unemployment and its attendant implications on national security, is the way to go.
The Daily Graphic is encouraged by the fact that the new strategic direction comes with the provision of an environment for all personnel to acquire the relevant skills to venture into entrepreneurship and also meet industry demands.
With job openings in the public sector shrinking with time, entrepreneurship is the way to go. Embracing entrepreneurship will enable the young graduate to identify economically viable areas of the economy and explore the opportunities.
Equally worthy of note is the development of 11 innovative national service modules, all of which have the potential to rake in revenue for the NSS to reduce its over-dependence on the government for survival.
These are good initiatives by the current managers of the scheme and we want to see them carry the initiatives through with all seriousness.
This should have happened long ago because continuous over-dependence on state coffers for the survival of the NSS is not sustainable. No wonder, globally, many of such institutions are collapsing because they depend on national coffers for operations and survival.
We cannot afford to have our national service fall into such a pit due to lack of funds.
If managed properly, we have no doubt that the NSS can play a more significant role in the accelerated development of the country.
National service personnel are found in every corner of the nation, contributing their quota to development efforts. Regrettably, they take home allowances that are inadequate, and, therefore, the service becomes a disincentive, instead of an incentive.
This is the more reason all efforts should be made to also help the secretariat to be more functional. This calls for more collaboration with user agencies.
Such a collaboration will engender a win-win situation, whereby the NSS, user agencies and the service personnel will all be satisfied contributing their quota to national development efforts.