President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Wednesday lifted the curtain on a new graduate employment scheme — the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo) — with the declaration that the stage was set for the restoration of hope and dignity to the youth.
He said the scheme signified the commencement of banishing the spectre of desperation among the youth.
The government offered 100,000 job opportunities under the scheme but 93,382 applicants who confirmed their acceptance out of the 99,811 selected applicants were commissioned into the work environment under NaBCo at a ceremony at the Black Star Square.
Trainees will work in seven modules, namely, Educate Ghana, Heal Ghana, Feed Ghana, Revenue Ghana, Enterprise Ghana, Civic Ghana and Digitise Ghana, with a monthly stipend of GH¢700.
President Akufo-Addo commenced his speech with a Bible quotation from Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
That attracted applause from the trainees who had filled the stands at the Black Star Square in their white NaBCo T-shirts.
The President said the programme would also assist in addressing public sector delivery needs of the nation.
President Akufo-Addo recounted how the scheme was ridiculed and met with pessimistic and cynical comments, while others discouraged some of the graduates from registering for the programme.
He said he was delighted that the beneficiaries did not listen to “the loud cries of the cynics and Jeremiahs”.
He said through the seven modules, the beneficiaries would assist in realising the government’s vision of an educated population, an industrialised, robust and well-managed economy and the delivery of good governance through a reliable skilled and efficient workforce.
President Akufo-Addo stated that for every four weeks of work, one week would be dedicated to acquiring self-future employability and work readiness skills.
He explained that within three years, the NaBCo trainee would obtain 36 weeks of solid training and value addition to enable him or her to transition seamlessly into the world of permanent work, a development which, he said, would also address the issue of lack of experience that kept some graduates out of the labour market.
Giving further details, the President indicated that the government was in partnership with the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) and some universities, both domestic and abroad, for the validation of the content of the learning programmes, so that the trainees would receive appropriate certification in the various modules they worked in.
He expressed optimism that with the amount of meticulous work that had gone into the programme, it would be successful and said when the current trainees were about to exit the programme, present concerns over their future would appear moot.
Explaining, he said that was because trainees would thrive without recourse to NaBCo planning their exit arrangements, and gave an assurance that the scheme had well-constructed and clearly defined exit routes.
Retention and exit routes
President Akufo-Addo added that the various institutions that would benefit from the services of the trainees would have opportunities to retain those who justified their value, adding that another pathway was the building of an entrepreneurial base among the trainees.
He added that one of the exit routes was that the University of Education, Winneba and the University of Cape Coast would provide academic training for NaBCo personnel with Diploma in Basic Education, which would enable them to earn certificates and guarantee them careers in the early childhood care and development sector.
The President, whose address touched on a number of pertinent issues, mentioned that another exit route was that the Ministry of Business Development and the National Entrepreneurial and Innovation Plan would liaise with 500 business leaders to mentor 500 NaBCo trainees under the Enterprise Ghana module.
Under that, he said, a dedicated fund, amounting to the equivalent of their third-year allowance, was to be made available for them to start co-operative ventures, adding that an equivalent matching fund would be sourced from a private investor to complement the GH¢4.5 million fund.
President Akufo-Addo advised the trainees to be dutiful and productive in their assigned areas and demonstrate that they valued knowledge as a basis for effective performance and productivity.
Earlier in a welcome address, the National Coordinator of the programme, Dr Anyars Ibrahim, had said in terms of regional ranking, Ashanti recorded 34,909 applicants; Greater Accra, 31,809; Northern, 19,807, with the smallest being Upper West with 4,003 applicants.
Educate Ghana had 43,834 applications; Revenue Ghana, 31,095; Civic Ghana, 19,917; Digitise Ghana, 16,620; Enterprise Ghana, 12,949; Heal Ghana, 11,785, and Feed Ghana, 8,934.
He said the trainees were to go through institutional placements right after their commissioning.
Dr Anyars said his outfit followed through a rigorous process of selection to safeguard the integrity of the scheme.
“We opened an online application portal, which received 146,968 applications — from an initial interest through sign-up of 175,000 tertiary graduates, and for the very first time in our administrative record, the NaBCo team empanelled five public servants across all 254 districts who cumulatively interviewed 137,000 applicants. This was achieved within a period of eight weeks from June 18 to August 11, 2018,” he said.
He said structures had been created to give shape to NaBCo and so far the various secretariats had received great support from ministries, departments and agencies, Members of Parliament, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies and even constituency level structures.
Describing the scheme as an incontrovertible, unprecedented and transformational effort, Dr Anyars said the trainees would help build the national economy and added that Enterprise Ghana, for instance, would yield an investment of over 100 million annually into the economy.