An apprentice is an individual who is engaged in an apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeship programme is a programme
of training in a designated trade under which an apprentice receives formal instruction and on the job training.
Informal Apprenticeship Training (IAT) is responsible for some 80-90% of all basic skills training in Ghana, as compared
to 5-10% from public training institutions and 10-15% from NGO for-profit and non-profit providers.
The National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) set up in 1970, has been responsible for the nationwide coordination
of all aspects of vocational training including apprenticeship. However, NVTI’s main programmes under its Department of
Apprenticeship has been targeted at training “formal” apprentices. The National Coordinating Committee on Technical and
Vocational Education and Training (NACVET) was set up to coordinate a national skills development within the formal and
informal systems across ministries but failed to secure a national policy for skills development and continues to suffer
from capacity problems and on-going tensions leading to its replacement in 2006/7 by the Council for TVET.
In 1998, a children’s Act outlined the legislative framework for IAT which specified the minimum age of informal
apprenticeship to be 15 years or after completion of basic education. The Act set out trainers’/masters’
responsibilities towards their apprentices’ regarding training, the apprenticeship agreement, duties and release of an apprentice. Informal Skills Associations (ISA) represent one of the strongest elements of the current institutional
framework for IAT and are actively involved in the supervision of skills training.
However, ISAs are not necessarily either strong, effective or always representative of their members. ISAs are set up as
intermediaries between member enterprises and the government and other agencies. The establishment of many ISAs, however, missed the point about self-help of its members. An evaluation team from the World Bank which funded a vocational
studies project (VSP) concluded that most of the associations identified by the study team only exist in name and are
not functioning as mobilizers of the local artisan corps.
Youth that is trained at the IATs currently have two certification options: An ISA awarded certificates and an NVTI
proficiency certificates which is a non-written competency-based skill test. Many informal apprentices do not register
for this NVTI examination. The establishment of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET)
to coordinate and oversee all aspects of TVET across ministries and the broad spectrum of formal, informal and
non-formal education and training has implied that, COTVET includes an informal sector affairs division which will
develop policies and programmes for strengthening IAT.
The skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) was a government of Ghana supported programme intended to
reduce poverty by providing employable skills and other assistance including micro-finance to the unemployed enabling
them to join the informal economy became a direct response to policy and political concerns regarding unemployment.
Major components of the STEP included skills training delivered through vocational training providers and skills
enhancement for master-craftsmen and skills training delivered through apprenticeship placements.
Skills enhancement for master-craftsmen (MC) and skills training delivered through apprenticeship placements entailed
MCs undertaking a few days pedagogical skills enhancement with the Ghana Regional Appropriate Technology Industrial
Service (GRATIS) to make them more effective trainers. Skill training was then delivered by attaching up to 10 trainees
to an MC to undertake a workshop-based apprenticeship for up to 12 months. Apprenticeship training organized by GRATIS
either took place in their own facilities where adequate equipment and machinery existed for the training or in informal
enterprises with MCs identified by GRATIS.
Difficulties that made the realization of programme goals impossible included:
• Many of the MCs given apprentices to train by GRATIS could not provide a decent training environment and were
ill-resourced in tools and equipment
• Training duration was not considered long enough especially in trades like welding and carpentry, leading to the
creation of half-baked apprentices. Moreover, most of the apprentices being trained had no prior knowledge of the trades
• Inadequate post-training support and huge delays in STEP graduates accessing micro-finance. By October 2006 only
10% had received loans.
Difficulties that made the realization of programme goals impossible included:
• Reform and strengthen the formal and informal apprenticeship system by infusing a CBT and assessment system
• Develop training systems and mechanisms to facilitate the articulation of the informal level and standards of
skills acquisition with those of the formal TVET system
• Encourage the formation and recognition of Trade Associations as a means of delivering training-related
assistance to members
• Integrate Informal Apprenticeship Training into the National Qualifications Framework
• Provide guidelines for governmental and private/NGO activities in the informal sector training and
apprenticeship