The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Accent and Arts Limited, Ms. Constance Swaniker, has called on the government to empower the private sector to venture into technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
As the founder of Ghana’s first accredited private TVET provider, the Design Technical Institute (DTI), she said the government could, for instance, offer tax reliefs and other incentives to encourage more private sector players to take up the training of young people and equip them with the skills needed to accelerate the country's industrialisation agenda.
Ms. Swaniker made the call when she spoke to the Daily Graphic in an interview after she hosted the inaugural cohort of the Leggat Foundry Fellows at the DTI campus in Accra.
The visit by the Foundry Fellows was to explore potential collaboration between DTI and the Legatum Centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), particularly in the areas of entrepreneurship and job creation.
The Legatum Centre developed the Foundry Fellowship in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation in alignment with the Foundation’s vision of a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper.
The Mastercard Foundation also has a three-year partnership with DTI under the Young Africa Works Programme to facilitate skills training, job preparedness and entrepreneurship development to create 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country by May 2023.
The 13 Inaugural Legatum Foundry Fellows hail from eight countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa and two others.
The Fellows are all entrepreneurs who have started businesses in areas as diverse as healthcare, fintech, education and agribusiness.
During the visit to DTI, the Fellows participated in a fireside chat moderated by the Director-General of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Professor Alex Dodoo, and Ms. Swaniker.
The conversation centred on the gaps in youth employability; scaling up of innovation in Africa; precision quality and the role of the private sector in creating jobs and wealth creation in Africa.
Lack of skilled professionals
Alarmingly, Prof. Dodoo told the Daily Graphic that there was a growing deficit of local skilled professionals who could do quality work according to specification, forcing many employers to bring in foreigners, although at a higher cost.
He explained that in the oil and gas sector, for instance, where metal fabricators and other skilled professionals were needed, there were not enough Ghanaians who had the basic requirements to be employed, despite a local content law that required such industries to employ some number of local professionals.
Prof. Dodoo added that to accelerate development, there was a need to formalise the informal sector to ensure that Ghanaian seamstresses, for instance, were able to produce to meet the standards of the American market to take advantage of trade opportunities such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, (AGOA).