Business News of Saturday, 24 November 2012

Source: Daily Guide

Artisans Cry For Empowerment Fund

A coalition of skilled labour artisans by name the Informal Sector Development Foundation (IDEF) has petitioned government to consider the establishment of an Artisans’ Empowerment Fund.

According to the coalition made up of over 3,000 members engaged in carpentry, mechanic work, hairdressing, dressmaking, plumbing, welding and mason work, the establishment of the fund will help address challenges regarding the lack of access to credit facilities by artisans.

Speaking at a press conference organized by the group to outline the grievances of skilled labour artisans in the country, Richard Sumah, Executive Director of the foundation, said the informal sector constitutes 60 percent of the total labour force with the sector employing over 80 per cent of the working populace.

He stated that artisans have been marginalized, adding, “Artisans are confronted with lack of access to credit, lack of voice in policy making, unsafe working conditions leading to ill health, low level of skills and education and the lack of access to national social security scheme, among others.”

He therefore outlined the importance of the petition for the establishment of artisan’s empowerment fund.

According to Sumah, the informal sector is deemed to be an unregulated and unmonitored part of the country’s economy and its potential for national development has not been utilized neither by past nor the present government.

“The informal sector is not captured in governmental policies,” he said.

He said the duty of the government should be the improvement of apprenticeship through the introduction of a dual apprenticeship system as observed in highly developed countries like the U.K.

“When someone is going through the informal vocational training he or she should be given the opportunity to go through a compulsory two day evening classes to know the theory so that by the time they finish apprenticeship they will have both the training and the theory,” he said.

He said the petition was to create the opportunity for everybody who wants to go into apprenticeship.

“If somebody wants to go into any apprenticeship of his or her choice he should be able to enter into that apprenticeship without stress,” he said.

“Just as they have established the youth entrepreneurship fund they should establish one which will be artisan empowerment oriented so that if any artisan wants to improve on his or her business they can get access to direct credit and then improve and expand to meet the market competition,” Sumah continued.

William Kwesi Andoh, a welder who had practiced for 30 years, said out of the number apprentices that he had trained over the years, only 10 had set up their own businesses with the rest selling wares on streets.

“If we don’t do something it will get out of hand that is what we want to bring the attention of government to,’ he said.