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Opinions of Saturday, 4 April 2015

Columnist: Ali Tanti Robert

Relevance of vocational and technical education

Relevance of vocational and technical education to ghana’s socio-economic development

It is evidenced that unemployment rate among the youth is higher than that of the adult population. The major hurdle for the youths of this country is how to transit from formal school to fit well into the job market. Education in general term is simply seen as a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, or research. Some scholars see education as an experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. Education is very important and vital to the development of any society. Ghana’s educational sector has had significant improvement over the years but there has been a growing concern recently by several Ghanaians about the product of our educational system. Such critics have argued that there is too much emphasis on academic subjects with little attention on vocational technical education as well as science and ICT which are major ingredient for the building of a sound economy. Socio-Economic development is seen as an improvement in the social and economic life of a society such as our country, Ghana.
Education is seen as a wheel which drives the economy so when the educational system is in a poor state, it greatly affects the economy.
RELEVANT OF TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
Technical and vocational education has the potential of improving the socio-economic sector of the country. For the purpose of this article I want to discuss the following importance Ghana stands a chance of benefitting when proper attention is given to Technical and Vocational education.
? Relevant Employment skills are provided
? Government receives more taxes
? Makes the country a haven for investment
Relevant Employment skills are provided; According Min (1995), the economic competitiveness of a country depends on the skills of its work force. The skills and competencies of the work force, in turn, are dependent upon the quality of the country's education and training systems. Vocational education is perceived as one of the crucial elements in enhancing economic productivity. The unemployment situation which has currently become a burden on us as a country has its root cause from the bookish nature of our current educational system which puts much emphasis on classical learning. This assertion is supported by the Principal of the Kumasi Technical Institute (KTI) Dr. Abeiku Apprey who recently called on government to boost technical and vocational education in the country as it holds the key to national economic development. To him this area of education trains the youth to acquire basic skills relevant for employment and wealth creation in this era of globalization. This concern has also been shared by Prof. K.T. Djan-Fordjour, Rector of Sunyani Polytechnic who was quoted as saying ‘high-skilled manpower required to boost productivity, underpin economic advancement and create opportunities for individuals in the economic development of Ghana is increasingly dwindling — largely because of insufficient support for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the country’
Below is a caption of a speech read by Prof. J. Anamuah-Mensah, former Vice Chancellor, University of Education, Winneba at St. Francis Secondary Technical School, Akim Oda when he delivered a speech at a ceremony in the school.
“We are aware of the acute lack of technical manpower with relevant skills in the economy even though this is a requirement for economic growth. We need to develop this base first through a well designed technical/vocational education and training system. At the moment, the small and medium scale businesses at Kokompe, fitting shops and many other areas provide a home for technical training for certain groups of people with limited theoretical background and therefore have limited impact. Few middle level technicians are trained in formal educational institutions. There is a need therefore to train more qualified middle level personnel with appropriate skills to propel the economy forward. The backbone (link) to the development of this resource is education and specifically, technical and vocational training which is offered through the school system”
Graduate unemployment has increased just because most of them do not have any employable skills that can make them self sustain.
The Principal of National Community Development Vocational Institute (NCDVI), Madam Elizabeth Mensah in addressing some graduates in her school said technical and vocational education is a pivotal basis training that helps to equip people to put to good use their God given talents. She said the mind set of some Ghanaians towards technical vocational education training has remained unchanged, the perception is still firmly held that technical vocational training is for academically weak student.
From the assertions and contributions of these noble people above, the picture is clear on why our youths are not getting jobs to do.
Government receives more taxes; According to a Tax Policy adviser to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Larbi Siaw, only two million Ghanaians out of the twenty five million pays tax to the Ghana Revenue Authority. Whilst I will agree with a section of the public who believe the revenue authority is inefficient, it is also evidenced that majority of the people who are not paying are not working even though they have gone to school. Government needs our revenue to build better roads, schools markets, hospitals among other things. If we shift our attention to vocational education then there is a possibility of getting majority of the youth into self employed initiatives and can contribute significantly to economic development of Ghana.
Ghana has always had to depend on donors and loans from external source to support its budget and this has a bad consequence on its economy. As at I write, there are a lot of expatriates working in our country especially the mining and oil and gas sector. These people are here because we may not have enough skillful people to work in such areas. Meanwhile, they are paid more than what a Ghanaian might have received and sometimes they are paid in dollars. After everything they go back to their country and we lose revenue.
Makes the country a haven for investment; When the citizenry are economically engaged it reduces crime such as robbery in and paves way for investors to do business in the country. Some school of thought believes that unemployment is a security threat and therefore must be tackled with all seriousness. A typical example is the increase in crime rate in mining communities in Ghana after the clamp down in galamsey activities by government. In most of the conflict areas the youth are used as the main instrument to fight just because most of them are not engaged in any meaningful economic activity. Often the absence of employment opportunities can lead to social conflicts such as violence and juvenile delinquency which in turn incur high social cost.
When the institutions are well resourced, they will be able to perform their duties. The army of unemployed youth in the country must be addressed with all seriousness.

ALI TANTI ROBERT
OBUASI
tantirobert@yahoo.co.uk
0246486740
The writer is the Director of Youth Alliance for Development a Youth led registered NGO with the sole aim of empowering the Youth to contribute to the development aspirations of Ghana with its head office in Obuasi.