Solidaridad, an international civil society organisation, has held a graduation ceremony for 101 learners at the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies (UCAES), at Bunso in the Eastern region of Ghana.
The learners underwent ten weeks of competency-based training in oil palm under the Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET) initiative of the Government of Ghana. The training seeks to build the skills of the youth for employment and entrepreneurship in the oil palm sector.
The first of its kind in the country, the training is accredited by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education Training (COTVET), the national regulator, and would be in two batches. The initial batch of learners, drawn from oil palm-growing 146 communities and oil palm enterprises in the Ashanti, Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Western, Western North, Oti and Volta regions of Ghana underwent both instruction time and internship. The graduation ceremony will be replicated in the remaining four institutions. A second batch of learners will be enrolled in April this year.
Over five hundred learners from five educational institutions accredited by COTVET run the training programme to provide support in six modules including nursery establishment, land preparation and plantation establishment, harvesting, farm management, processing and quality assurance and agribusiness management.
Solidaridad developed the competency-based training in partnership with the Ghana Skill Development Initiative under the implementation of the second phase of its Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme (SWAPP II). The GSDI Project seeks to improve the quality of TVET in Ghana by enhancing the skills and qualifications of job-seeking youth, apprentices and workers as well as owners of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The competency-based training programme in oil palm is supporting the youth learners with funding from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra, the Swiss government through its State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ).
The beneficiary institutions include:
- University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (UCAES) in the Eastern region
- Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture (KITA) in the Ashanti region
- Asuansi Technical Institute in the Central region
- Father Dogli Memorial Technical and Vocational Institute in the Oti region
- Kpando Technical Institute in the Volta region
The Dutch Ambassador, Ron Strikker in a speech reiterated the importance of technical and vocational education to the development of any economy. He said that the Dutch government was extremely delighted that a competency-based programme in oil palm — an idea that was conceived two years ago — had finally come to fruition. He disclosed that the Dutch government has jointly supported the development of the oil palm sector in Ghana with the Swiss government through the Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme being implemented by Solidaridad because it recognises the value of vocational and technical education.
“For us, we see opportunities to continue supporting the government of Ghana in its development agenda,” Mr Strikker said.
Congratulating the learners for a successful training, the Swiss Ambassador to Ghana, Philpp Stalder commended the government of Ghana for investing in vocational and technical education. He said the Swiss embassy was looking forward to further areas of collaboration with Ghana to realise greater impact in competency-based training in the oil palm, cashew and other agriculture sub-sectors as it has done in the last three years.
“Ghana remains a focal country for us and developing skills for employment and entrepreneurship will continue to be on our agenda for the next four years”, he added.
The Head of the Programme for Sustainable Economic Development (PSED) at GIZ Ghana, Mr. Detlev Axel Jahn said that through the establishment of the Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI) Project, the German Development Cooperation through GIZ Ghana seeks to introduce competency-based training (CBT) standards and collaborative training models which combine both workplace-based training and school-based training modules to selected TVET providing institutions in Ghana. This, he explained, is expected to provide demand-driven training to job-seeking youth, apprentices and trade persons which will in turn build a confident and job-ready workforce that will be attractive and sought-after by industry as either employees or entrepreneurs.
In remarks delivered on his behalf, the Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, Isaac Gyamfi said the competency-based training fits with Solidaridad’s Theory of Change, which is that efficiency in supply chains cannot be achieved if the actors in the sector are not business-minded and lack the right skillset to capitalize on opportunities. He said it was for this reason that the right investment must be made to create agri-entrepreneurs to adopt technologies and create value-addition businesses that support farm workers to develop entrepreneurial skills aside from their technical know-how.
This, he said, is crucial for the sustainability of Ghana’s oil palm sector and to improve productivity to match leading producers like Malaysia and Indonesia.
“Solidaridad’s work does not end when the learners receive their certificates. This is because, the end game for us is to enable the learners to find jobs in the oil palm sector as workers or entrepreneurs and contribute to the sustainable growth of the sector,” Mr Gyamfi added.
In 2019, Solidaridad, under the Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme, supported the partner institutions with Council for Technical and Vocational Education Training accreditation, as well as tools and equipment to run the training programme as part of its gender and youth inclusion agenda. In partnership with the Ghana Skills Development Initiative and the Council for Technical and Vocational Education Training, Solidaridad in 2020 provided technical upskilling training to lecturers and tutors from the five partner educational institutions on the oil palm ATVET curriculum.
The Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Programme seeks to contribute to the transformation of the oil palm sector in West Africa, increase incomes of smallholder farmers and processors, and generate economic growth and jobs. SWAPP II is part of Solidaridad’s global agenda to build sustainable supply chains.
Solidaridad has over fifty years of experience in developing solutions to make underprivileged communities more resilient. We currently work in over 40 countries, on five continents, through eight independently supervised regional offices.
We envision a world in which the economy works for all: where all we produce, and all we consume, can sustain us while respecting the planet, each other and the generations to come.an economy that works for the poor: a world in which all we produce and all we consume can sustain us while respecting the planet, each other, and the next generations.