PUBLIC LECTURE DELIVERED AT THE 5TH BARAKA POLICY INSTITUTE (PBI) ANNUAL PUBLIC LECTURES HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY, 2019 – BY DR. FRED KYEI ASAMOAH

Mr. Chariman, Naa Alhassan Andani,

Hon. Minister for Business Development – Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal,

The President of BPI, Mr. Salem Kalmoni

The Executive Director of BPI, Dr. Haruna Zagoon-Sayeed

Fellow Speaker – Prof. Ato Essuman,

Our friends from the media,

Distinguished Guests,

Our dear students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All protocol observed:

I wish to start by expressing my sincere gratitude to the Baraka Policy Institute (BPI) for the kind invitation extended to me as a Speaker for this year’s lecture. Let me also use the opportunity to thank all of you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to attend or listen to this lecture on the theme “The Primacy of Technical And Entrepreneurial Training in Ghana’s Entrepreneurial Quest”.

This lecture series has grown to acquire a formidable reputation, and I am grateful that the organizers decided to make me part of this year’s events. They have indeed chosen the most relevant topic of Ghana’s education sector besides the Free SHS policy in contemporary times, a topic which sums up the essence of the current aspirations of the Government of Ghana, The Ministry of Education and the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) – The Primacy of Technical/ Vocational Education in Ghana’s Developmental Quest”.

Indeed, it is for this reason and aspiration that His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo whilst addressing students at the Asuansi Technical Institute remarked, “If we are to transform the structure of our economy from one dependent on the production and export of raw materials, to a value-added, industrialized one, then students from technical institutions…are crucial.”

GHANA’S COLONIAL HERITAGE

Mr. Chairman, Ghana’s colonial heritage means that at independence our education system was structured to prioritize “grammar education”. As most of you are aware, during that period, African countries were expected to be exporters of raw materials and thus there was little or need for a “skilled workforce”. After independence little has been done to turn the tide which means that we have a lot of graduates with Social Science and Humanities background to the neglect of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, we can argue amongst our selves as to why our education system is structured to produce more “grammar graduates” as opposed to TVET graduates. However, one thing that is clear for all to see is that it is not only the structure of our education system which hasn’t changed much, the structure of our economy has also not changed. This means that for a very long time we have been primary exporters of raw materials to the rest of the world.

As a consequence of these structures, we go around with cup in hand looking for support from the countries we export our raw materials to for funds to develop our country. Our development has thus become tied to what our “development partners” are willing and able to give us. This development model has clearly been the reason why we are developing at a snail’s pace. His Excellency the President put it aptly, when he said, “We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent on the basis of whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked and it will not work”

WHERE WE ARE NOW.

Mr. Chairman, the stark truth is that, today, the “Guggisberg Economy” with a focus on the export of raw materials has become unsustainable, and with rising youth unemployment, coupled with the inability of the biggest employer of “grammar graduates” – the Government of Ghana’s – inability to absorb all these graduates, the pressure keeps mounting on the education sector to produce students with skills who can start their own businesses and feed emerging industries.

Our educational establishment/ structure also prioritizes “grammar education” to the neglect of TVET. Parents, teachers, and education regulators have all contributed to deepening the erroneous notion that this field of study is somewhat superior and more rewarding than TVET. Therefore, students right from the formative stage, fail to grasp the benefits of TVET, both at the personal level, and the national level.

Again, most of these students, especially those with very good grades are encouraged to study either medicine, business or general arts with the hope of becoming Doctors, Bankers or Lawyers respectively. This negative perception has been so much reinforced to the extent that, students with low grades are the ones pushed to Technical and Vocational Institutions (TVI’s) in the hope that they can learn a skill which will make them useful. As if to say that, TVET is secondary, when it comes to personal and national development.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Governments over the years cannot also be absolved of blame when it comes to enforcing this wrong perception. Government funding and support to TVI’s pale in comparison to mainstream educational institutions. For example, none of the second cycle TVI’s can be compared to a school like Wesley Girls or Prempeh college with regards to infrastructure. Again, none of the TVI’s at the tertiary level can be compared to the University of Ghana with regards to infrastructure. In 2014 for example, the TVET subsector was allocated only 3.7% of the education budget, compared with 22% for the senior secondary education subsector. It is true that TVET is quite expensive to fund. It costs more to train students in skills acquisition than to train students in social science and humanities. For this reason, government sometimes chooses the easy option of expanding infrastructure in the main stream educational sector anytime there is the need to absorb more students and little attention is paid to the TVI’s.

THE NEED FOR TVET NOW (PRIMACY OF TVET)

Mr. chairman, I have already indicated that, the “Guggisberg Economy” has become unsustainable, and has failed to deliver the kind of development we aspire to. It has therefore become imperative, we turn our attention to industrializing our economy and adding value to the vast natural resources God has endowed our country with.  To this end, steps are being taken by the government to build more factories and industries with policies like One-District-One-Factory.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it will however surprise you to know, that there is a German company that wants to build a factory which would manufacture P.O.P ceilings in Ghana but have not yet started because of the lack of skilled employees in that field in the country. This factory when constructed would create jobs for not less than one-thousand (1,000) people. Again, there is a garment and textiles company in Ghana and owned by a Ghanaian which has the capacity to employ almost one-thousand skilled workers, but the owner is unable to find workers with the skills needed to operate the machines in the factory. She therefore employs people with basic skills and retrains them to have the capacity to use the machines before they can start working properly.

In essence, although we have thousands (1000’s) of students graduating annually from the various tertiary institutions, those graduates are not even fit for purpose. The two examples just enumerated reveal that the unemployment situation faced by the country could have been avoided if we had decided to treat TVET as the primary field of study from the onset. We have failed to match industry needs with the subjects being taught and prioritized in the various schools.

There has been a lot of talk in recent times about training our youth to be entrepreneurial. Several funds and institutions have been set up to promote and fund entrepreneurship among the youth. Whilst these steps are commendable, especially with rising unemployment, and governments inability to employ all graduates, it cannot be the panacea for unemployment if these young entrepreneurs do not really have any proper skills to actually start a new business. At the mercy of sounding controversial, let us carefully consider this analogy, if a Political Science or Sociology major student is taken through three months entrepreneurial training with funding, and the said student does not have any real skill, the person may just opt for a business in “buying and selling” of FMCG’s. Contrast that to a graduate from Accra Technical University with skills in wood work who is given the same three months entrepreneurial training. What you will see is that, this person will have the capacity to start a sofa manufacturing company and end up employing sales persons, accountants, drivers and others with wood work skills.

Changing Nature of Jobs

Chairperson, another truth is that, the nature of jobs tomorrow will be very different from those of today. Ghana is a developing country and as such, as we continue developing, we are going to see more sky scrapers which will require construction workers with skill sets different from what our masons currently possess. For example, in the construction industry, we are going to need more structural metal preparers and metal erectors than we have ever needed as country. With more sky scrapers also mean we need a workforce with special skills to continually maintain these buildings.

Furthermore, there are several countries where ICT is considered part of TVET. ICT has now become the key driver of development in the world these days. Today, drones and 3D printing have become key players in the pursuit of rapid socio-economic development.  According to the World Economic Forum, “ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology—are set to dominate the 2018–2022 period as drivers positively affecting business growth”.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution popularly referred to as Industry 4.0 also means that the type of workers needed in the manufacturing sector is changing. With the digitization of manufacturing, industries now require more programmers than factory hands.

The World Economic Forum for example argue that, “While the Fourth Industrial Revolution may be disruptive to many occupations, it is also projected to create a wide range of new jobs in fields such as STEM, data analysis, computer science and engineering. There will be strong demand for professionals who can blend digital and STEM skills with traditional subject expertise, such as digital-mechanical engineers and business operations data analysts, who combine deep knowledge of their industry with the latest analytical tools to quickly adapt business strategies. There will also be more demand for user interface experts, who can facilitate seamless human machine interaction. For Sub-Saharan Africa, the greatest long-term benefits of such jobs are likely to be found in the promotion of home-grown African digital creators, designers and makers, not just digital deliverers”.

Chairperson, it will interest you to know that one of the solutions proposed to realize the human potential in the fourth industrial revolution for Sub-Saharan Africa is “providing robust and respected technical and vocational education and training (TVET)” according to the World Economic Forum.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) have indicated that, by 2024, the hospitability and tourism industry will be responsible for the creation of 74.5 million new jobs, 23.2 million of which will be directly within the sector, representing 10.2% of total employment. Ghana’s own Tourism Ministry have indicated that, the country plans to increase the annual number of tourists from 0ne million annually to eight million annually.

I know that at this point, some people may be wondering what Tourism and Hospitality has to do with TVET. I dare say however, that it has everything to do with TVET. With an upsurge in the tourism and hospitality industry means the need for more chefs, caterers and cooks. We also need more hoteliers and the like. Ghana recently won Gold at the Worldskills Kigali Africa Regional Competition and guess what category we won that medal in?  Ladies and Gentlemen, it was in cooking. The student who made Ghana proud, Miss Sika Mortoo is a student of the Accra Technical University and one of the winners of the maiden National Skills competition organized last year. It is therefore imperative for us as a nation to train more people in the tourism and hospitality industry if we are to reap the benefits of the expected boom in tourism.

Chairperson, another industry which requires more skilled professionals is the creative industry. There are several countries globally which have used the creative industry to reduce unemployment drastically. In Germany the creative industry has some 253,000 companies, employs some 1.6 million people and generated 154 billion Euros in 2016. According to UNESCO, “In 2004, turnovers in the creative industries in Germany increased by more than 2% compared to the previous year. For comparison: the automobile industry achieved a growth of 0.3%, the chemical industry of 3%”. TVET can produce cosmetologists, beauticians and fashion designers in addition to the more technical staff who film and record in the industry to support this industry in Ghana and reduce unemployment.

For a very long time, agriculture has sustained our economy until the recent discovery of oil in commercial quantities. As our population grows, it means we need to start employing more innovative and efficient means of growing crops to feed ourselves and export for foreign exchange. Here again, TVET has an all-important role to play in agricultural mechanization and for the implementation of government policies like one-village-one-dam. The Accra Technical University is planning to create a department for dam mechanics at its Mpehuasem campus. This will ensure that we practice sustainable agricultural production and increase the income earning potential of our farmers as well as creating food security for the country.

Mr. Chairman, beyond these, the promotion of TVET can also contribute positively to national revenue mobilization because the tax net will be expanded. This is can come about because as I pointed out earlier, graduates from TVI’s possess the potential to be more entrepreneurial than graduates from other institutions. As these graduates set up more businesses, government will be the ultimate beneficiary, because there would be more tax revenue for the country to use in pursuing other development needs such as infrastructural development and poverty alleviation.

In addition to all of these, the promotion of TVET will ensure that the country becomes globally competitive. In a working paper authored by Tobias Hüsing, Werner B. Korte, Eriona Dashja in 2015, titled e-Skills In Europe, “In 2020 the European labour market is projected to grow by more than 670,000 new jobs, but it could absorb another 756,000 ICT practitioners if only sufficient supply were in sight”. Therefore, in addition to meeting our own man power needs, by training more people in TVET, we can export our excess skilled workforce to neighbuoring countries or Europe with the hope of benefitting from remittances. The World Bank estimates that in 2017 alone, Ghana received 2.2 billion US Dollars or a little below 12 billion Ghana Cedis in remittances. We should therefore not under estimate the value of remittances to any nation. According to the World Bank, in 2015, remittances contributed to 13.34 percent of Ghana’s GDP. Thus, in our quest for development, we need to ensure that we realize the full benefits of remittances which TVET has a major role.

Mr. Chairman, there have been recent announcements of VW and Nissan planning to set up assembly plants in Ghana. We already have Apostle Kwadwo Safo Kantanka also manufacturing vehicles and other sophisticated equipment. All of these companies require a certain skilled workforce especially in this day and age where almost every vehicle is electronic. In addition to training people for these companies, our auto mechanics/ repairers need retraining and an upgrade of skills to be able to sufficiently repair the new type of vehicles being manufactured globally. These vehicles do not use carburetors and the like any more. All production vehicles today use computerized fuel injection systems to feed fuel and air into the combustion chamber of the engine. This means that mechanics now use diagnostic machines to assess the health of vehicles which further means that most of our mechanics need retraining and upgrade to continue remaining relevant.

GREEN TVET

Ladies and Gentlemen, although we seek development as a country, development has to be sustainable as well. So far, all the areas I have touched on have been on the economic and social development role of TVET, but TVET also has a role to play in sustainable development. That is where the term “Green TVET” comes to focus. In this regard TVET has two major roles to play, which is creating new green technology and adopting green technology in the curricula and the TVI’s.

Industries and factories are usually accused of being the main cause of pollution in the world. Therefore, whilst training students to acquire skills for these industries, it is important that we ensure they are trained on the best practices of disposing industrial waste as well as the benefits of using green technology in manufacturing. This also means that, Green TVET should not just be a topic of study in the curricula, but should be incorporated in everything the students are being trained to do as well as the environment in which they are doing it.

Such incorporation will begin with having green campuses, with respect to energy management, waste management, and water management. Also, the curricula should also be green, with a focus on green and clean technology, and green jobs. Furthermore, it should include green communities, green research and green culture. According to UNESCO, “TVET is crucial in reorienting society to adopt the low-carbon mentality so essential to addressing climate change. It is also impossible to think of making gains in poverty reduction, job creation and decent work provision without transforming TVET. For example, Goals 4, 6 and 8 of the SDGs are directly related to TVET, with many of the targets capable of being supported by a well-designed TVET system and targeted skills-development interventions”. In simple terms, we can achieve the goals of the SDGs, namely SDG 4 (Quality Education); SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG 8 (Decent work and Economic Growth) by promoting green TVET.

WHAT GOVERNMENT IS DOING?

Mr. Chairman, in all of this, Government has an all-important role to play. I will therefore want to highlight what the Government through the Ministry of Education and COTVET is doing to promote TVET and ensure the country reaps the full benefits of TVET for national development.

Government realized that the TVET landscape in the country was somewhat chaotic, with several institutions doing their own thing without any proper coordination. I don’t know if some of you are aware of this, but currently there are as many as 19 Ministries and Agencies in Ghana with some role to play TVET delivery or supervising a TVI. Government has therefore taken the decision to align and bring all public TVET institutions in the country under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Education to streamline their curricula, and improve the co-ordination of their training, with the Deputy Minister for Education, Hon. Barbara Asher Ayisi, going to be specifically responsible, at the Ministry, for technical and vocational education.

The country has also adopted the Competency Based Training Policy (CBT) and has developed the National TVET Qualification Framework (NTVETQF) consequently.

COMPETENCY BASED TRAINING (CBT)

What then is CBT? CBT aims to shift TVET from theory-based teaching to a practical and hands-on approach. CBT is an industry and demand-driven, outcomes-based education and training programme based on industry-generated standards. Such industry standards form the basis upon which programme/curriculum assessment and learning materials are designed and developed. This means that before curriculum is developed, industry will be consulted as to the skills they need the learners to acquire to be able to perform. This approach also means that, individuals will be assisted to acquire skills and knowledge so they are able to perform a task to a specified standard under certain conditions. The learners expected outcomes is also clearly stated to them so that they know what to expect. In essence, it focuses on what you can achieve in the workplaceafter completing a course. The leaner can then only progress once they are deemed Competent in their field of study.

Chairperson, embedded in the CBT approach is also the recognition of prior learning and life long learning. A learner’s experience at the workplace and previous studies is factored in the CBT approach to learning because CBT is hands on. This means that what ever a person has learnt either as an apprentice or through formal education is not discarded but built on and polished. With lifelong learning, workers can continually upgrade their skills in tandem with changes in technology at the workplace. This will also allow learners who have had limited access to training in the past to have a second chance to build on their skills and competences. To ensure that CBT is properly implemented, the government has also developed a National Qualifications Framework for TVET (NTVETQF).

NTVETQF

The National TVET Qualifications Framework (NTVETQF) aims to provide Competency Based Training Programmes for individuals starting from the Proficiency level to the Master of Technology level. This is an eight level qualifications framework which aims to standardize TVET in the country. Due to the chaotic nature of the TVET landscape, where private and public TVI’s were running their own programmes and setting their own standards with different regulatory bodies overseeing them, the NTVETQF became necsaary. With the introduction of this framework, TVET will now be standardized so that it doesn’t matter which TVI you attend, you can be assured that the curriculum is the same and whatever qualification you obtain will be similar to that of any other TVI. In the past this has been a major bane of the TVET landscape because a student from one NVTI may have the same qualifications from a different NVTI but will have studied different curriculum. This also meant the industry didn’t know what to expect from two graduates holding the same certification but from different TVI’s.

The qualifications under the National TVET Qualifications Framework begin from National Proficiency 1; then you can progress to National Proficiency 2; then on to National Certificate I and II; the Higher National Diploma; Bachelor of Technology; Master of Technology and finally Doctor of Technology.

5-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN

In recognition of the primacy of TVET to Ghana’s quest for development, government has developed a 5-year strategic plan which has been approved by cabinet and expected to be approved by parliament. This plan when approved will sanitize the TVET land scape and will ensure that all public TVET are aligned under the Ministry of Education. The 5-year strategic plan for TVET will also result in the setting up a TVET Service and TVET Council, and a dedicated division of the education service for technical and vocational education, which would have its own Director General.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, in addition to these, under the 5-year strategic plan, government plans to make Ghana a leading country In TVET delivery In Africa. To this end, we will be establishing Twenty (20) state-of-the-art TVET institutions across the country. The plan also makes provision for the establishment of an apex training institution for the training of TVET staff; addition of Department of Education to Technical Universities; Strengthening Agricultural training in TVET; and Establishment of Sector Skills Council. We are also conducting a Skills gap analysis and needs assessment of all TVET institutions. Finally, the plan encompasses upgrading 35 NVTIs as well as some colleges of education that specialize in technology.

The plan has 5 Goal Domains, namely Legal, institutional and policy framework; Physical, Human and financial resources; Curricula and delivery systems; Qualifications and certification; and Data- driven decision making and is estimated to cost US$119, 356, 050 (GHC477, 424, 200). It also seeks to address the under representation of females in engineering and technology-related fields; and inadequate financing, and obsolete and inadequate training facilities.

Mr. Chairman, the government has also secured a $100-million facility from the AVIC Exim, to resource technical schools, polytechnics and technical universities in the country beginning 2019. This facility in addition to other facilities will go a long way to revamp TVET in the country and help achieve governments vision of making Ghana a world-class center of skills development.

GTVP

Another policy initiative being conducted by the government with support from our development partners GIZ is the Ghana TVET Voucher project (GTVP). The GTVP is a 10 million Euro project funded by the German-Ghanaian Financial Cooperation through KfW Development Bank and implemented by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) through PLANCO, an international consulting firm. The objectives of this project are; to improve access of apprentices, master craft persons and workers from informal and formally registered micro and small enterprises to technical and vocational education; Strengthen the capacity of TVET stakeholders such as training institutes, trade associations and COTVET to effectively play their mandated roles in TVET; and finally, it aims to provide a consistent incentive system for vocational training providers taking into consideration the labour market relevance of such training.

MY TVET CAMPAIGN

Mr. Chairman, one of the major challenges faced by TVET in Ghana is the negative perception about TVET. We cannot run away from the fact that although TVET is the country’s best bet to develop and industrialize our economy, negative perceptions about TVET means that students who attend TVI’s are usually those with double digit grades. We are therefore in effect entrusting the development of our country to those we consider to be academically weak surprisingly. The government through COTVET has therefore decided to implement what will be termed the MY TVET campaign to change perceptions about TVET and attract some of the best students with the best grades to the TVI’s.

COTVET with the help of a number of partners and sponsors also successfully organized the first ever National Skills Competition after successfully organizing Zonal skills competitions last year. It will interest you to know that Ghana also participated in the Worldskills Kigali Africa Regional Competition 2018 for the first time and we won Gold, Silver and Bronze in different categories. This means that our students have the talent and skill set which if honed can lead to national development. This year we will be participating in the Worldskills competition in August which will take place in Russia.

These competitions are necessary to generate interest in TVET and to ensure that TVET becomes attractive in the country.

WHAT ELSE CAN BE DONE

GOVERNMENT

Government has prioritized TVET in our quest for national development. However, more can be done to ensure that TVET becomes the first. Other Government Ministries and Agencies have a role to play to ensure that TVET delivery is smooth. We are grateful to the National Youth Authority for its support during the 2018 skills competitions. The National Youth Authority was one of the government agencies who partnered the Ministry of Education and COTVET to successfully organize the Ghana Skills Competitions in 2018. We are calling on other Government Agencies to like GNPC, Ghana Free zones Authority, National Communications Authority and the Volta River Authority etc to emulate this gesture equally support and partner the Ministry of Education and COTVET for rapid transformation of the TVET landscape and to promote national development. These government to government partnerships are essential if we are to achieve the overall policy objectives and the vision of the government.

CIVIL SOCIETY

Mr. Chairman, civil society also has a very important role to play in helping promote TVET. At the moment, a lot of Civil Society Organizations undertake projects within the TVET landscape without consulting COTVET. Whilst every help to promote TVET is welcome, what is happening currently means a that lot of people are doing things in the TVET space without proper coordination and thus little progress is made in promoting TVET in the end. As I pointed out, under the 5-year strategic plan, a Needs assessment is being conducted to ensure we have up-to-date information on the various TVI’s so as to properly plan and look for funding to address those needs. I will therefore use this opportunity to entreat various civil society organizations to partner COTVET in their quest to help TVI’s or undertake projects in the TVET landscape. This will ensure that we are all on the same page as to what needs to be done to promote TVET and that or efforts are properly targeted at solving the challenges in TVET development, regulation and delivery.

Furthermore, Civil Society have a role to play in changing negative perceptions about TVET and we welcome all the help we can get from Civil Society in this regard.

THE MEDIA

In our quest to change perceptions about TVET and to attract the best students to the TVI’s. One body that can help us is the media. The media informs, educates, and entertains. If the media will jump on the TVET bandwagon, then within no time, perceptions will change and we will see more people opting for TVET and supporting TVET activities as well as TVI’s. I will therefore urge the media in attendance to become ambassadors of TVET after listening to this lecture. We are prepared to partner media houses to help promote TVET in the country.

INDUSTRY

Ladies and Gentlemen, Industry has a dual role to play in ensuring TVET leads to national development. I have already indicated that under the Competency Based Training approach, learning is industry and demand driven. Thus, we will need the industry headed by the AGI to assist us in determining which skills are in need and the standards required of students to perform at the work place. In addition to this, TVET is very expensive to fund, and as such government alone cannot fund TVET for us to realize its full benefits. Industry should therefore support in funding TVI’s and developing the curriculum for studies under TVET. It is only by so doing that we can fully make TVET delivery in the country world class.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM OTHER COUNTRIES.

Mr. Chairman, in all of this, it is important to note that there are several countries we look up to in our quest for national development. Almost all of these countries have prioritized TVET and have invested heavily in TVET to ensure sustained growth and development. We can learn from countries like Germany, South Korea, Japan and Canada who have prioritized TVET and are reaping the benefits thereof.

Germany

Germany for example, has an abundance of well-qualified, technical employees in business and industry. The ‘dual system’ of Vocational Education and Training has been credited for Germany’s excellent economic performance, and her consolidation into a mighty, industrial power. “Trainees in the dual system typically spend part of each week at a vocational school and the other part at a company, or they may spend longer periods at each place before alternating”. Companies in Germany which provide training as part of the dual system not only save on recruitment costs but also avoid the risk of hiring the wrong employee for the job. The Germans have recognized that, investment in first-class training is a key factor for success in an increasingly competitive world. The dual system is also been adopted by a number of countries including Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark.

GHANA NEEDS TVET.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, in bringing my speech to an end, let me conclude with a quote from Nelson Mandela who once said and I quote, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Let me dare say in addition that, “TVET is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the fortunes of our country”.  We are still at a developmental stage as a country, and as such there are more roads to be constructed, more schools to be built, more railway lines to be constructed, more bridges to be constructed etc. We cannot continuously import Chinese and American experts to design and engineer our roads, hospitals, schools and bridges. We certainly cannot continue to look on when foreign nationals are employed as Chefs in almost the major hotels in the country due to the lack of enough professional and renowned chefs in the country. Finally, we shouldn’t wait until foreign national takeover our auto mechanic and auto repair industry before we realize we should have trained more auto repairers and mechanics.

The Time for TVET is now, not tomorrow. Ghana needs TVET today not in 20 years’ time.

Thank you all for your time.

God Bless you.

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE GUEST OF HONOUR, DR. FRED K. ASAMOAH, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COTVET ON THE OCCASION OF THE 7TH CONGREGATION OF BOLGATANGA POLYTECHNIC HELD ON SATURDAY, 16TH FEBRUARY, 2019

Mr. Chairman,

Hon. Regional Minister –Madam Paulina Patience Abayage,

Hon. Members of Parliament,

Hon. Municipal/District Chief Executives,

Chairmen of Technical Universities and Polytechnics Councils,

Members of Bolgatanga Polytechnic Governing Council,

Executive Secretaries of Regulatory Bodies,

Rector and Vice Rector of Bolgatanga Polytechnic,

Vice Chancellors and Rectors of Technical Universities and Polytechnics,

Registrars and Directors of Finance of Technical Universities and Polytechnics,

Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies,

Members of Convocation,

Chiefs,

Our Friends from the Media,

Distinguished Invited Guests,

Parents/Guardians,

Graduands,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is indeed a great honour to be invited as the Guest of  Honour for the 7th Congregation of  Bolgatanga Polytechnic. I convey to you warm felicitations from His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo.

His Excellency the President would have wished to be here with you today but that has not been possible because of equally other important national assignments. He extends his warmest greetings and has asked me to assure you that though he is physically absent here, he is here in spirit as he considers Bolgatanga Polytechnic a critical partner in our drive towards economic development.

TECHNICAL-VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (T-VET)

Mr. Chairman, Invited Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen, the key resource for any sustained national development is skilled human capital. As you mark the beginning of your journey outside the school today, we wish to share in your joy and to assure you that with the right mind set, attitudes and quality of training you have received in the Bolgatanga Polytechnic, the sky will not be your limit.

As it were, the level of development in a middle income country like Ghana is determined by the quality of its human resource coupled with innovations in science and technology especially modernization of agriculture. Hence, agricultural industrialization remains the central driving force in the achievement of economic and social development in Ghana. The Nana Addo-led Government is very much aware of this and is committed in partnering learning institutions and the private sector in providing expertise and resources for realizing the goals of our youth specifically in agriculture in order to enhancenational development. It is for this reason that the Policy of Planting for Food and Jobs was launched last year to revolutionize agriculture.

In all of this, T-VET is key and it is for these reasons that all Technical Universities and Polytechnics are being retooled through the AMATROL and AVIC projects so that students of these institutions can be properly be trained to lead the industrialization drive.

Mr. Chairman, let me reiterate that agriculture remains the backbone of the Ghanaian economy for which reason Nana Addo-led Government is leaving no stone unturned in developing the agricultural sector of our economy. Though the country has found and been drilling oil in commercial quantities, and the service sector is booming, it is only the agric sector which drives inclusive growth. This is where the two agricultural departments of your Polytechnic come into focus. It is my belief that the Agricultural Engineering and Ecological Agriculture Departments can play a vital role in promoting agriculture in the Upper East Region in particular and Ghana as a whole. With appropriate research and training, these departments can introduce innovation in the food production chain to increase productivity and improve income levels of farmers and marketers alike.

GOVERNMENT POLICY & SUPPORT

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Government is keen in upgrading the remaining two Polytechnics- Bolgatanga and Wa to Technical Universities to enable them derive full and maximum benefits of Technical Tertiary Education. We are resolved that the upgrading will not only expand access to technical and vocational tertiary education but will also provide a career path for all who choose technical education. Let me assure all those who have chosen technical education that the future can only be bright especially with the training that is envisage for Technical Universities in Ghana. We are one of the few countries with a National TVET qualifications framework. This  an eight level framework which starts from the proficiency level to the doctorate level and uses the competency based approach where industry is part of program development, training, assessment and certification of learners

I wish to urge Bolgatanga Polytechnic to upgrade swiftly its staff capacity and partner with relevant industries to reposition itself for conversion to Technical University. A strong linkage with industry is very critical in this regard. We therefore urge staff and Management of the Polytechnic to explore ways of not only placing their students in industry for practical training but also undertaking same themselves to sharpen their skills for effective delivery.

We understand the importance of equipment and industry experience in the training of graduates of a Technical University for which reason we are taking the necessary steps to provide that vital requirement for Bolgatanga Polytechnic to improve your readiness for conversion into a Technical University and the competiveness of your products in the world of work. The AMATROL and AVIC projects I just mentioned come in handy to address this issue.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Chairman, research and industrial development are inseparable and are the pillars of His Excellency, President Nana Addo’s ‘one-district one-factory’, and ‘one-village one-dam’ policies. Currently, there is  the National Research and innovation fund Bill approved by cabinet and ready for gazetting to replace book and research  allowance which when passed will make statutory allocation of funds to enhance research and its uptake in the country. Research feeds industry while the proceeds of industry sustain research. Hence, the role of research and industry especially mobilizing national resources for development is indispensable and more critical today than ever in the face of emerging technologies and globalization. It is therefore in this regard that I urge your staff to come up with innovative ideas and projects towards securing corporate funding and partnership to enable you contribute meaningfully to the development of the Region and the nation as a whole.

I am reliably informed that the Ecological Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering Departments have secured funding from the Skills Development Fund two (SDF II) to develop modules for vegetables farmers and to train farmers on post-harvest losses. I want to commend the lead staff and the Departments for their efforts and I hope this will development of CBT that can be upscale for national impact

As we all know, research is key in the academia. Continue to research for new and better ways of doing things and be mindful of the environment in your efforts to grow and achieve the best for your communities.

CHALLENGES

Mr. Chairman, we may all be aware of the challenges we face as a nation which Government is committed to addressing. I am informed of the peculiar problem of inadequate industries within the catchment area of Bolgatanga Polytechnic; which together with other factors affect practical and skills acquisition by staff and students. I, however, wish to urge you to look beyond Bolgatanga or Upper East to address the practical skills acquisition challenge.Do not confine yourself to the fringes of Bolgatanga. Lets explore other cities and towns in the country and virtual reality.

I also wish to urge you to build industrial collaborations that will improve your financial strength and the competiveness of your graduates as well as uplift the corporate image of Bolgatanga Polytechnic.

Mr. Chairman, Ghanaian industries’ inabilities to meet their responsibilities is due to many problems. Energy and cost of operation used to be among the many challenges most of the industries faced. The high tax was another. Fortunately, the Government has reduced and canceled some of the nuisance taxes. Government is thus determined to further reduce taxes if possible to enable businesses to remain competitive. Electricity tariffs have also been reduced to cushion Ghanaians and their business. We further hope to continue implementing social policies that will benefit the good people of Ghana.

Improving upon the quality of TVET delivery in the institutions is very important and so Government is also expanding access. With the introduction of Free Secondary and Technical Education under Ministry of Education, there has been substantial increases in the TVET institutions enrolments in Technical and Vocational institutions within the Ghana Education Service and this is being complemented with upgrading TVET institutions across the country and even moving on to provide 20 state- of the Art TVET institutions that will include a center of excellence across all the regions of Ghana. The Implementation of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy will also open up access to the recognition of the skills of a lot more people especially for the skilled operators in the informal sector and it is my hope that Bolga Polytechnic will participate fully in this regard.

The Realignment of all public TVET institutions under the Ministry of Education and the operationalization of Technical and Vocational Education Service (TVES) as a delivery agency under MOE is ongoing and will be at full implementation hopefully this year.

Ghana will for the first time, be at the World Skills Competition to be held in Russia following the successful showing at the World Skills Competition, Africa, held in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018.

ADVICE TO GRADUANDS

I am particularly happy that you are graduating today. I congratulate you for having gone through your various programmes of study successfully. As I share in your joy today, I urge you not to become complacent after your graduation, for the exigencies of life have just begun; The world has already started using industry 4.0 and most of the jobs today will not exist five years from now. As such I challenge you to be entrepreneurial and innovative in fertilizing your ideas and developing your communities. You should not stop seeking to acquire more skills that will make you competitive and relevant

Remember that hard work, perseverance and dedication are the surest ways to success in life.

As you leave the Polytechnic into the realities of life, remember that society which invested so much in you would expect returns from you and those returns would be measured not only in the way you assist your community to identify solutions to their problems but also the quality of your solutions and the role you play in bettering the lives of your people.

CONCLUSION

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I have taken keen note of your concerns. I shall bring same to the attention of relevant authorities and follow up for solutions as well.

I want to once again congratulate the graduands, staff and Management on the occasion of the 7th Congregation of Bolgatanga Polytechnic and wish you God’s guidance, direction and leadership in all your endeavours. Thank you and God bless us all and our homeland Ghana.

Update Meeting ON TVET with the Senior Minister – Yaw Osafo Marfo

The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo called on the Technical andVocational Education and Training (TVET) team at the Ministry of Education and the
Ghana Education Service (GES) to discuss the current state and future
of the skills sector in Ghana.

Impressed by the able team at the Ministry of Education, the Senior
Minister charged the team to transform TVET in the shortest possible time,
adding that the success of education is measured by employability and
the quality and quantity of skills available in the workforce.

The Minister for Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, informed him that TVET has always been a priority for him and theMinistry and that he is fully aware of its transforming powers on a
nation. Therefore, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with
GES and the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and
Training (COTVET) is embarking on a massive revamp of the sector to
make sure that young people who choose technical and/or vocational
education attain world class standards and certification.

According to the Minister, so far the team is:

1. Processing the TVET bill in parliament
2. Unifying all TVET institutions to be under the watch of COTVET
3. Giving all secondary level TVET students free education under the Free SHS
4. Collaborating with the likes of the World Bank, Televic, AVIC, De
Lorenzo, GIZ and others to revamp and retool many of our technical
institutions
5. Encouraging students and trainees through competitions,
international exchange programmes and scholarships to become
innovative problem solvers
6. Providing loan facilities through MASLOC for startups in TVET

Very soon, the team will provide Ghanaians with an update on the
reforms taking place to boost TVET in Ghana to make it the premium
choice for all those who wish to pursue lifelong careers in the skills
sector.