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“TECHNICAL VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (TVET): THE SOLUTION FOR YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT” – DR. ERIC KOFI ADZROE

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Full text: SPEECH DELIVERED BY ENGR. DR. ERIC KOFI ADZROE AT EVANGELICAL PRESBYTERIAN TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL INSTITUTE, ALAVANYO

SPEECH DELIVERED BY ENGR. DR. ERIC KOFI ADZROE AT THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EVANGELICAL PRESBYTERIAN TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL INSTITUTE, ALAVANYO ON SEPTEMBER 04, 2021 ON THE THEME: “TECHNICAL VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (TVET): THE SOLUTION FOR YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Chairman – Togbegah Tsedze Atakora VII, Paramount Chief of Alavanyo Traditional Area, Moderator of the General Assembly of E. P. Church, Ghana, Rt. Rev. Dr. Col. B. D. K. Agbeko (Rtd), Clerk of the General Assembly, E. P. Church, Ghana & Chairman, Board of Governors E. P. Technical Vocational Institutes, Rev. Dr. E. A. K. Amey, Hon. MP Hohoe Constituency and Minister Responsible for Railway Development, John-Peter Amewu, Volta Regional Director, Ghana Education Service, Madam Enyonam Afi Amafuga, General Manager, E. P. Church Schools, Ghana, and Director of Education, Mrs. Marian Jemima Akua Adzroe, Hon Andrew Teddy Ofori, Municipal Chief Executive, Hohoe, The Board Members, EPTVI, The President, Volta CHASS, Teacher Unions Present (GNAT, NAGRAT, CCT etc.), The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Chairman and his Executives, Management of EPTVI, Members of the Planning Committee, Past Students (EPTVIOSA), Principals and Headmasters/Mistresses of Technical and Senior High Schools, Former Managers & Principals, E. P. Technical Vocational Institute, Staff, Students, The clergy, Togbewo, Mamawo, Friends of the media, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to first and foremost thank the planning committee of this august anniversary for inviting me to speak. Indeed, I am very much pleased and honoured to join you today in celebrating your 40th birthday.

Togbega Chairman, not too long a ago, I came here in the company of my wife to the induction service of the current Principal that has been probably my second visit to this campus in ten years, little did I know today I would be called upon to speak on this special occasion. So, when I received the invitation to be the Guest Speaker on this special anniversary day, a few thoughts run through my mind. The very question I asked myself, was I spotted when I was in attendance at the induction service or did the planning committee members knew of my background as someone who had previously had technical education? All well and done to the Glory of God!

Togbega Chairman, I am reliably informed that this institution was established some 43 years ago by some German Missionaries in collaboration with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana, here in Alavanyo-Kpeme in the Hohoe municipality of the Volta Region of the Republic of Ghana. The focus of the founders was to train the youth within the Alavanyo enclave in self-employable skills in Blocklaying, Dressmaking, Catering, Agriculture, Carpentry, Electrical Installation and Business Studies.

I have no doubt several young men and women in the last 40 plus years passed through the four corners of this institution, some of whom are doing extremely well in their chosen trade. That is why I think the vision of the founders is still relevant to societal economic advancement today. For that reason I think the theme “TECHNICAL VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (TVET): THE SOLUTION FOR YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT” for the 40th anniversary celebration is most appropriate. What else could the Evangelical Presbyterian Technical and Vocational Institute under the circumstance do after turning 40 years? Life they say begins at forty. In this context, it is about taking stock and charting a path into the future and beyond. Such future path must deepen the vision of the founding fathers of this institution.

Togbega Chairman, I have been asked to speak on an important but intricate theme “TECHNICAL VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (TVET): THE SOLUTION FOR YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT” as I earlier noted, in all sincerity, I think this is the most appropriate theme for the 40th anniversary celebration. For me, it is welcoming news as a practicing built environment engineer and technical education and technology advocate. Putting this theme into it right perspective, permit me to give a teaser on what actually technical and vocational training is all about. To many people of our time, it is a damping point for dull and non-brilliant students while others are of the opinion that it’s the traditional apprenticeship arrangement. These schools of thoughts have permeated our national mind-set and allowed to influence the national discourse and policy. Now, what actually is technical and vocational training? Basically, it is the preparation of individuals to acquire practical skills as well as basic scientific knowledge in their chosen field of trade or vocation. In this context, such training provides skilled manpower, which can demonstrate adequate combination of practice and theory to solving an identified problem. A training of this nature provides practical oriented workforce that a country needs to fashion out developmental agenda. Individuals with technical specialised skills are most desirous in many jurisdictions all over the world because of the importance and benefits associated with such trainings and skills. For example, it is a common knowledge in the developed world that individuals who possessed these technical skill sets have better job opportunities and higher earnings, more importantly turn to have better job retention, personal career development and growth. At any level of our existence their services are required, be it at homes, offices, schools, and public facilities. For instance, we require the services of a builder, they build our homes, offices, fix electricals connections, fix plumbing work, produce furniture we use at homes, offices and many more you can think of. They are the same group of individual we occasionally invite to undertake maintenance work on many of the essential things we need at homes and offices. This is how important TVET training is and the reason for which we have to go the extra mile to make it work in this country of ours.

TVET is important and beneficial to all when properly deployed, we will see less structural failures in our buildings, settlement environmental erosion and electrical related fires because they bring acceptable workmanship of application of theory and practice to their trades and vocations.

Togbega Chairman, the question that remains unanswered is, why as a country we are unable to compartmentalise these important benefits of TVET and link it to solving youth unemployment? To many minds, we as a country indeed, paid lip service to TVET although we know its importance in national development and job creation. Many in the past and event present argued that, policy makers in majority seemed to have backgrounds in grammar type education rendering the focus on TVET less potent and fragmented. It is obvious that, there is no national strategy in mainstreaming TVET into the national agenda, this assertion is debatable though, but it is the true reflection of our current state of affairs and many of you here would agree with me. If indeed, TVET is the solution to youth unemployment, then there must be a clear cut policy and strategy that may require a complete overhauling of the education and training sector of the country and this is the time to act.

This is the time to demonstrate government’s willingness and political leadership in putting TVET above the grammar type education which is not yielding much as expected for national development.

There is the need to start a clear policy on career and academic progression as a strategy to entice young men and women. Most importantly, implementing a deliberate incentive strategy in this regard may have the potential of bringing TVET closer to a lot more young men and women by doing this the narrative surely would change with time.

Togbega Chairman, making TVET the solution to youth unemployment requires a lot of inputs from all stakeholders in this industry. First and foremost, permit me to appeal to the training institution’s mangers and trainers to also go the extra mile to making TVET to achieve the expected solution to youth unemployment. One surest way to go is about awakening the entrepreneurial potentials of the trainees, preparing the individual’s mindset that he or she is a potential employer. This could be achieved through seminars and workshops organised purposely for the trainees early enough when their institutional training begins. Resource personnel for engaging in this specialised activity could be sought through some of the church’s institutions of higher learning. This calls for effective collaboration and networking among the church’s educational establishments.

It is important for these institutions to work together in order to achieve the church’s vision of bringing light to where there is darkness.

Togbega Chairman, before I take my seat, I would like to salute the founding fathers of this institution for their foresight some 40 years plus ago. Indeed, if we should follow the strength of the German skills training concept, then TVET is the way to go.

I am at this juncture obliged to make a solemn appeal to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana to refocus its education strategy, in order for the church to improve upon funding to its educational institutions and other establishments. In this context, education development fund could be established purposely to support and complement government investment in the church’s educational institution to improve upon training and learning environment.

I wish you a happy 40th anniversary celebration!
God bless you!!