A fund to be used to support technical and vocational training and strengthen skills development in Ghana has been launched to help to solve the unemployment problems especially among the youth.
Mr Paul Victor Obeng, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), who launched the Fund, on behalf of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), said the true relevance and dignity of technical and vocational training was lost and that had created a missing link in the country's development.
He said there was an urgent need to bridge the gap between those working in the informal sector as technical and vocational skills workers and those who go through formal technical and vocational education through the upgrading of their skills.
"Sometimes, you find a person who has completed vocational education at the Polytechnic level, however, if you tell this person to prepare Jollof rice without the book, there is a problem, meanwhile, there are people who do not have the needed academic qualification but can cook Jollof rice so well that everybody enjoys it," he said
Mr Obeng said there was a social cost that a nation paid if those with the needed skills were neglected.
"There are times we all find ourselves taking our cars to roadside mechanics when the ones we know and trust like the PHC or Japan Motors is not working, let say on a Sunday," he explained.
Mr Obeng further called for efficient management of the Fund to ensure that the people, who needed the support most, benefitted.
The Fund called: "Skills Development Fund" (SDF) would serve as a tool to help to produce qualified labour force, which the country, especially the private sector, needs while providing new entrants to the labour market with gainful employable skills.
Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, said skills training was critical to help to achieve the better Ghana Agenda and urged the stakeholders to take it seriously.
He also called for the efficient use of the Fund's money to avoid duplication of projects and jobs by various organizations, while commending the harmonization between the NDPC, the Sector Ministry and the Ministries of Education, Environment, Science and Technology and Trade and Industry.
Dr Joseph Annan, Deputy Minister of Education, urged the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) to further develop and manage an education training system to deliver services with the knowledge and skills necessary to operate a sophisticated and modern economy.
He expressed Government's commitment to increasing skills training access for the youth and adults, who did not meet, the entry requirement for post secondary school programmes.
Government is also committed to increasing access to high level skills in target areas such as the oil and gas industry, engineering, hospitality and tourism and agriculture, he added.
Mr Annan called for a partnership from the business sector and professional organizations to open up workplaces for apprenticeship and workplace experience in order to improve the employability of the youth.
Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Science, Environment and Technology, lauded the SDF initiative, especially for including technology training in the programmes.
She said: "If we are to boost innovation, we need to put a particular emphasis on entrepreneurship research leading to transferable technologies to support the private sector."
Mr Nick Opoku, Board Chairman of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education Training, explained that the Fund would be available for training institutions and organizations that qualified to train people with the needed technical and vocational skills.
He said Technical and Vocational Education is the key to economic empowerment and development.
Expressing his gratitude to development partners, he mentioned that the Danish Government provided $13,000,000.00 and that the Fund was expecting contributions from the World Bank and the African Development Bank, which had expressed their commitment.
Mr Opoku, however, expressed the need for a home-grown self-supporting funding system and commended Government for making an initial contribution of GHÂ¢ 15,000,000.00 through the Ghana Educational Trust Fund (GetFund).