As I sat in the Trust Sports Emporium on Thursday, October 14, participating in a Precision Quality Market Conference, I unconsciously caught the Precision Quality (PQ) bug.
I represented the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) at the unique event organised by the Design and Technology Institute (DTI) because the GSA is a key stakeholder in the Precision Quality agenda.
The occasion got me reflecting seriously on Ghana’s unemployment situation and practical ways to tackle this problem.
Unemployment, as pertains today, constitutes a clear and present danger to our society. Truth be told, it poses a security threat.
According to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations, the Unemployment Rate in Ghana is expected to reach 4.60 percent by the end of 2021 which is a cause for worry.
Among the issues contributing to unemployment include poor training and mismatch of education to available jobs as reflected by these observations: ‘Employers are dissatisfied with the employability skills of Ghanaian graduates’, Damoah et al ., (2021); ‘About 70% of business executives consider graduates poorly or very poorly ready for work’, Hosi, (2019). Baah-Boateng, on the other hand, believes a mismatch between the educational curriculum and job market demands is a contributory factor’ (Baah -Boateng, 2013).
Currently, institutions of higher learning are under tremendous pressure to improve training of students beyond cognitive capabilities and Precision Quality holds the, key to creating dignified and fulfilling jobs in a sustained manner.
Ghana’s first accredited private Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) provider is, thus, on the path to align the mismatch between training and jobs with a mission to transform youth TVET livelihoods across West Africa.
DTI is partnering industry with hands-on training for all students and interns. Towards this goal, it has launched a Precision Quality Centre of Excellence with a Professor-in-Residence to link academia with industry and provide a centre for world-class research into products, processes and systems.
Strategically, DTI is collaborating with stakeholders on the “Transforming Youth TVET livelihood for sustainable jobs” project, an arrangement with the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works strategy to target 3 million young Ghanaians, particularly young women to access dignified and fulfilling work opportunities by 2030 with an initial 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ghana by May 2023.
The PQ Conference brought together key stakeholders such as the President of the Greater Accra Market Association, Manye Mercy Afrowa Needjan; trade associations and master craft persons from Accra, Kumasi, and Ho.
Executives from state institutions such as the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), and the Commission for Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (CTVET) also attended the meeting to discuss industry issues, strategize to create jobs, while attaining industry standards and quality outputs through PQ.
DTI is supporting some Technical Universities with laboratories as well as PrecisionQuality™️ training for lecturers and students alike. In September 2019, it trained 100 students from various Universities, Polytechnics, Technical and Vocational Institutions to gain industry experience by working closely with artisans on a factory floor, supported by experienced instructors.
It has already trained several students in the core modules and to date, all these students have gone on straight to full employment.
The DTI Precision Quality (PQ) curriculum training programme is expected to improve the work skills and practices of 5,000 master craft persons and 1,000 Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) through training of master crafts persons in Kokompe and Suame with exposure to precision quality methods.
However, this assumption ignores a key fact – the human mind-set! PrecisionQuality™️ acknowledges that the creation of wealth through the production of goods and services that are world-class starts from “attitudes, mind-sets and work ethics” that are “deliberately imparted, consistently delivered and regularly measured for evaluation and improvement”.
In Ghana, the DTI has rolled out training programmes that have so far ensured 100% job entry for all students with some receiving appointment letters before completion of the programmes.
Clearly, PrecisionQuality™️ does create high-quality jobs and DTI has generated evidence for this right here in Ghana.
Ms. Constance Swaniker, CEO of DTI had this to say – ‘Most often, artisans and traders do not give consumers the quality service they deserve and pay for because they take things for granted and do not pay attention to details. These things can easily be corrected with the right tools, training and mindset. This is what we want to achieve with the Precision Quality (PQ) Market Conference’.
‘To produce high quality products that satisfy consumers, industry players need to pay attention to precision and quality’, noted Ms. Swaniker.
The PQ training and internships, include developing intentional learning objective goals that are structured into the experience and supervised by a professional with relevant and related background in the field. It also involves industry related and soft skill development.
My takeaway from the conference is that Precision Quality holds the key to quality job creation and that Standards and Precision Quality are interlinked.
On Tuesday, November 9, DTI, will host the first cohort of Foundry Fellows from the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT.
The Foundry Fellows will share ideas and explore potential collaboration between DTI and the Legatum Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) particularly in the areas of entrepreneurship and job creation.
The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT, developed the Foundry Fellowship in collaboration with Mastercard to align with the Foundation’s vision of a world where everyone has opportunity to learn and prosper.
The 13 Inaugural Legatum Foundry Fellows hail from 8 countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa among others. Fellows are all entrepreneurs who have started businesses in areas as diverse as healthcare, Fintech, education and agribusiness.
The Fellows will further participate in a fireside chat moderated by Prof Alex Dodoo, Director-General of the Ghana Standards Authority and Ms. Constance Swaniker, CEO of DTI.
Issues to be discussed during the high-level fireside chat include gaps in youth employability; scaling up of innovation in Africa; precision quality and the role of the private sector in creating jobs and wealth creation in Africa.
The group will also discuss and explore innovative approaches that may help Africa-based businesses become profitable, inclusive and sustainable.
This visit will surface areas of mutual interest to Foundry Fellows, DTI and the Legatum Center especially those relating to proof-of-concept studies on innovation and skills development in Africa.