The Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour, Bright Wireko-Brobby, has said the mismatch between the skills employers seek and the qualification of job-seekers is deepening the unemployment situation in the country.
“Skills mismatch remains a growing policy concern where industry ready jobs cannot be taken up by graduates and thereby compounding graduate unemployment situation.
It is extremely essential to deepen collaboration among policy makers, industry and academia to eradicate such challenges,” he said this at the official launch of the Huawei LEAP Program and ICT Job Fair in Accra on Wednesday.
He therefore reiterated the call for industry and academia to collaborate to resolve the challenge, which has become a critical issue for the ministry.
There have been several calls by stakeholders in the education sector for academia to link up with industry to train and churn out graduates who are required by industry and will be relevant on the job market.
Experts have argued that a strong collaboration between academia and industry will increase the employability skills of graduates, especially those from technical universities.
They believe that industry can serve as a first point of call for new programmes that a particular university may want to introduce.
Education watchers have also argued that listening to industry stakeholders can also provide an indication of academic programmes that need to be scrapped, revised or completely overhauled so as to remain relevant and avoid producing unemployable graduates.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the occasion marked an important milestone in the government’s digital transformation agenda.
“It is practical demonstration that there are quality ICT education and job creation in this sector,” she said.
She underscored the importance of employment creation and entrepreneurship in ICT as key economic drivers, adding that the government remains ready to partner global ICT organisations such as Huawei and local private sector organisations to encourage local expertise.
Tommy Zhou, Managing Director, Huawei Ghana, stated that the day marked a very special chapter in the company’s corporate journey in Ghana as it took another step towards their commitment to grow with Ghana through the development of the country’s ICT talent to propel the nation into digital sustainability.
“Technology can empower people and open up economies. We all saw the crucial role digital technologies played in combating the recent pandemic and the role it continues to play in reviving economies. The world is in a digital era and every country including Ghana is working to have a thriving digital economy that is crisis resilient.
Under our new LEAP initiative with focus on the four key layers in the areas of Digital Leadership, Skilled ICT Professionals, Young Digital Talent Development and Digitally literate Citizens. We have made special arrangements and commitments specifically dedicated to Ghana over the next two years, that is by 2024.”
The Vice President of Huawei Southern Africa Region, Yang Chan, indicated that Huawei’s years of efforts in local ICT talent development has revealed a multi-layered demand for digital skills for a country.
He said: “Firstly, there is the need for more ICT-savvy policy makers who understand technology and the benefits of a digital economy, and support best practice in ICT development.”
“Secondly, the need for upskilled ICT workforce to better innovate for inclusive development, as well as the need to encourage and empower the youth to follow ICT-related studies so the country will have a strong pool of digital talents.
The most fundamental layer is, the need to promote digital literacy among all citizens, so no one will be left behind, which he says is based on the flagship ICT talent program it has launched,” he added.
Huawei launches LEAP
LEAP which is an acronym for Leadership, Employability, Advancement and Possibility, is aimed at fostering strong digital leadership and a skilled ICT workforce, building a digital talent pool, and promoting digital literacy among citizens.
It includes a wide range of activities spanning from ICT training and certification courses, government digital capacity building and ICT skills competitions.
Under Leadership, Huawei intends to train over 1,000 government officers in digital workshops; Employment will also offer 200 plus internship and job opportunities as well as 1000 plus hands on training to partners and subcontractors.
On Advancement, Huawei will train 5,000plus tertiary instructors and students throughout the academy, ICT completion and seed for future whilst Possibility entails experience sharing with 100plus SMEs in digital business digital literacy training to 90,000plus women and girls PILOT TEOSS to benefit 1,500 pupils.
The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred the digital adoption across Africa. This increases the demand for more digital skills and talent.
According to a World Bank, study on Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 230 million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030, which makes programmes like LEAP even more critical.
More than 2,000 students from universities across the country applied for the Huawei ICT Job Fair 2022 but only 300 were shortlisted, with close to 250 expected to receive firm assurances on job placement after the fair.