Speakers at the on-going 63rd Annual New Year School and Conference in Accra on Tuesday, have identified the absence of practical training in Ghana’s educational system as a major challenge to higher skills development.
They argued that this had resulted in the creeping phenomena of graduate unemployment in the country with a large chunk of the youth resorting to all manner of menial jobs including “galamsay” operation just to make ends meet.
Mr Abdul-Karim Adam, Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) Training Coordinator on Oil and Gas, said Ghanaians had high job expectations with the advent of the oil find, however, the Jubilee field would be able to offer only about 10,000 direct jobs in the next five years.
He said there was, therefore, the need for strategic skills development to enable the youth explore other existing opportunities in the sector.
Mr Adam contributing on the topic; “Training University Graduates for Ghana’s Oil and Gas Industry”, indicated that Ghana’s competitiveness in the oil and gas sector would require high skilled manpower to sustain the level of development, and ensure the replacement of the existing workforce that was likely to retire within the next 10 years.
This year’s New Year School is on the theme: “One Year of Oil and Gas Production: Emerging Issues”.
Mr Adam said MDPI had taken the lead to designed top-up training programmes to sharpen existing skills of graduates from both the universities and technical institutions to bridge the huge knowledge deficit gap created by the oil industry.
He said: “Since the whole issue of oil and gas sector is driven by technology transfer, it is crucial that our graduates are furnished with the right training to become highly marketable”.
Mr Adam said MDPI had recruited and was equipping about 7,000 graduates with high level skills comparable to any global standard with the aim of exporting such manpower to other West African countries over the medium and long term, taking advantage of the age gap.
Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, Africa Coordinator for IBIS Ghana, proposed strategies for empowering the youth for the oil and gas industry and advised the youth to look beyond upstream and midstream opportunities.
He said the downstream sector was currently dominated by the youth and that could provide enormous opportunities if it was expanded and supported to operate efficiently.
Mr Adam said: “A strong downstream subsector requires some policy reforms and restructuring to deepen the deregulation regime in the petroleum sector”.
He said that the number of young people choosing sciences for their career was reducing and that without more scientists and engineers, Ghana could not sustain the levels of operation needed and would not be able to deliver enough energy for the future.
Mr Ada, said it was important to introduce young people to the wide breath of areas and activities in the petroleum sector.
He highlighted on the challenge of local content, and cited that the most successful countries like Brazil, Malaysia and the United Kingdom had achieved a national content level of 40 to 80 per cent, while others like Nigeria, Angola, Trinidad and Tobago, Saudi Arabia and Libya were still struggling to reach between 25 to 30 per cent.
Mr Adam mentioned the lack of domestic manufacturing, fabrication and services capabilities, lack of adequate water, electricity and other infrastructure to support an expanded manufacturing base and the cumbersome bureaucratic obstacles to develop small and medium size enterprises as some of the challenges impeding the development of the sector.
He called for the adoption of relevant international models such as the Graduate Engineers Development Programme, which involved a two-year after graduation intensive training and the establishment of skills development centres such as the National Youth Employment Programme to boost employment in the oil and gas industry.
Mr Adam said: “Ghana must ensure the utilisation of oil revenue in the priority areas of agriculture, infrastructure, health, water and sanitation, educational, rural development and poverty reduction and providing incentives to facilitate investments along the oil and gas value chain.
“Empowerment through local content would encourage the development of local capacity, ownership of equipment, and utilisation of local facilities in the execution of jobs.”