The World Bank Ghana, yesterday, hosted a Results Forum in Accra to showcase the achievements of the Ghana Skills and Technology Development Project.
It was organised by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, with the aim of bringing together the Development Partners? who are financing the Skills Development Fund? and government representatives, with the view to discussing government's development agenda on vocational training, science and technology.
The Forum also aimed to create the opportunity to discuss how the Skills Development Fund (SDF) could become a key government policy instrument with the objective of improving both competitiveness and productivity in the Ghanaian economy.
Represented at the Forum were the Association of Beekeepers; Horseman Enterprise? whose staff received training in trends in shoe and bag manufacturing; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Jewellery Design and Technology Centre; Progressive Electronic Technicians Association; Gold Coast Fruits Limited and the Mushroom Growers and Exporters Association among others.
In an address delivered on his behalf, Mr Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, noted that the success of SDF would create demand for training and technology, and, thereby, expand the country's human and technology capital stock, and put Ghana in the forefront of development innovation in Africa and beyond.
According to Mr Crookes, the Forum was a good step to be discussing the results of and the best way to assuring sustainability. "There is no way to make the economy more diversified, the country more competitive than with innovation such as this," he added.
He, therefore, stressed the need to ensure that the projects under the Fund supported the least endowed parts of the country.
He also urged government to initiate a law to mainstream the instrument and to ensure that it supported in the government's budget framework by the end of the project while advocating for a robust and transparent system for applications, review and grant implementation.
The Minister for Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, stressed the need to support mass production as well as the need to showcase the products made in Ghana.
Prof. Opoku-Agyeman, therefore, called for a forum that would bring beneficiaries of the Fund together to share ideas and to deliberate on the way forward.
SDF was established by government with a US$60 million support from the World Bank (US$50 million) and the Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA) (US$10 million) to provide critical solutions to some of the most difficult challenges facing the development of industry-skills and technology.
The Fund, which is being managed by the Project Support Unit of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), is an initiative of the Government of Ghana and is aimed at strengthening the productive capacity, competitiveness, income levels and employment creation in industry by providing grants to finance skills and technology upgrading in agriculture, building and construction, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), hospitality and tourism, textiles and garments, among others.
The Fund is also to provide grants to science, technology and research institutions to develop innovative technology required by industry to be efficient and competitive in the global arena.
By 2016, the Fund plans to disburse the amount to Ghanaian businesses and training institutions for skills upgrading and innovative technology acquisition which will lead to enhanced productivity, competitiveness, profits and job creation.
As at the end of 2013, SDF's support to the 78 grantees had yielded 5, 336 new jobs in the fields of agriculture, ICT, consumer electronics repairs, beauty and cosmetics, construction, hospitality and tourism sectors across the country.
According to Mr Johnson Boakye Yiadom, Head of Monitoring and Evaluation at COTVET, a total of 4, 553 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) -1,378 for women? had so far benefitted from SDF-supported skills training, while 31 formal institutions/enterprises had also benefitted from the Fund.