In 1967 the National Manpower Board was established in Ghana to formulate policies for efficient human resource development and utilization. After a study of skills training and manpower needs, it proposed a national vocational training program. This commenced in October 1968 with the ILO as the agency responsible for program execution. A National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) was established in 1970 with the mandate of coordinating all aspects of vocational training as well as apprenticeships in Ghana.
There have been important initiatives from the Government of Ghana, such as the National Apprenticeship Program and the Ghana Skills and Technology Development Initiative, and also representation of informal labor on the national level tripartite committee to amend and consolidate laws relating to labor and employment. The government’s 2001 Skills Training and Employment Program was one of the flagship projects which set in motion the creation of a database in the sector, including opportunities for training.
Institutional Support for Training
The Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) was established in 2006 to formulate national policies on skills development across pre-tertiary and tertiary education in the formal and informal sectors of the economy and to coordinate and supervise the activities of public and private vocational training and education providers, including informal apprenticeships. COTVET is responsible for reporting on the state of skills development in the country as well as advising the government on all matters relating to the management and improvement of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in Ghana (Quashie 2018).
Ghana’s TVET system is under the purview of the MoE but other ministries providing TVET include the Ministry for Employment and Labour Relations and the Ministries of Youth and Sports, Local Government and Rural Development and Health. The mission in the draft national TVET policy for Ghana is stated as
improve the productivity and competitiveness of the skilled workforce and raise the income-earning capacities of people, especially women and low-income groups, through the provision of quality- oriented, industry-focused, and competency-based training programs and complementary services
Ghana’s country profile on the UNECA (2002) database states that TVET in Ghana aims to contribute to the development of a productive workforce by linking the education system to the needs of the economy. The International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (2017) also presents an analysis of information on TVET in Ghana.
COTVET notes that pre-tertiary TVET has the dual mission to prepare students both for increasing and widening workplace requirements and also further study. It equips trainees with skills to enhance their employability and livelihoods and provides access to competency-based training (CBT). Policies promote industry-led and demand-driven CBT which is outcome-based and also promotes equitable access, opportunities and career pathways for students and employees to develop their vocational, technical and generic skills; and workplace experience learning which ensures that the theoretical and practical aspects of the CBT model are integrated and prepares students for work. The assessment instruments and learning materials are all developed from industry standards. Certification is through the national TVET framework created by the COTVET.
The introduction of COTVET in 2006 helped to establish TVET as a national priority both in the formal and informal sectors. Institutions seeking to run the curriculum of the CBT program have to be accredited by COTVET and this includes pre-tertiary, tertiary and even informal sector institutions. Both the facilitators and the programs the institution intends to run must be accredited by COTVET and, so far, 20 institutions have been accredited (Quashie 2018). Because the focus has been on formal institutions, however, over 90 percent of craftsmen are unaware of the CBT program. The absence of trade unions in the informal sector makes it difficult for COTVET to reach workers there, especially construction workers (Quashie 2018). For the same reason, it is more difficult to identify training needs in order to establish appropriate interventions. Although there is the potential for CBT to close the skills and competence gaps in the construction industry, more is needed in terms of organization and an enabling environment for artisans in the informal sector to embrace the concept.
The eight-level National TVET Qualifications Framework for Ghana, administered by COTVET, recognizes vocational skills, knowledge and competencies. It classifies qualifications (from Level 1 - traditional apprenticeship - to Level 8 - Doctorate in Technology) according to criteria and standards of learning outcomes.
The framework enables recognition of knowledge and skills to improve employability. Employers benefit from a skilled workforce, with enhanced productivity and quality of products and services; improved employee motivation and assurance of validation of employees’ qualifications and capabilities. For the economy there can be improved national competitiveness, a basis for international comparison and opportunities for labor mobility.
There are problems matching the contents of training to industry requirements, improving the quality of instruction, obtaining adequate finance, providing training institutions with up-to-date facilities and equipment and enhancing the perception of technical and vocational training among potential and current students (Darvas and Palmer 2014; Ofori 2017). The system is largely supply driven, facing high costs, low quality of supply and low demand. The curricula tend to be theoretical and it is difficult to attract and retain instructors with marketable and up-to-date skills. The institutes are unable to respond quickly to the changing needs of the market and industry and to target resources effectively. The TVET system also tends to exclude the poor, owing to the direct costs of training. The poorer pupils are also unable to meet the entry requirements of most formal TVET providers. Among the reasons for the lack of support by employers for training is their fear that workers they invest in would be poached by competitors.
Ghana did not have a national body to oversee construction skills training until the inauguration in 2019 of the Sector Skills Council for Construction (SSCC). The SSCC has the aim of developing an understanding of the future skill requirements in the industry in order to reduce skills gaps and shortages and to boost the skills of the construction sector workforce (Ghana Skills Development Initiative undated). The current estimated annual demand for skilled construction workers is between 60,000 and 70,000, but the formal technical institutes in Ghana turn out only 900 per year (Ministry of Education 2010). The informal sector fills the gap but the annual output from that source is unknown. According to COTVET the construction industry needs artisans who understand industry structures, materials and tools, as well as being able to adhere to industry standards (Quashie 2018). Although the NVTI can provide certification of the activities of the artisans in the informal sector, many tradespeople are unaware of the program and those who know about it do not consider it necessary to acquire certification. Apart from the inadequate skills capacity as a result of rapid technological and product development, informal labor in construction also lacks business skills, knowledge about resource use, customer care and financial awareness (Debrah 2007).