The Dilemma of a Ghost written by the legendary Ama Ata Aidoo, re-echoes in my ears as I consider the plight of the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCO) trainees as the clock of job placement trickles down towards September.
When Ato Yawson, a young Ghanaian, returns home from his studies in America with his new bride, the African-American Eulalie their hopes of a happy marriage and of combining the “sweetness and loveliest things in Africa and America” are soon shown to have been built on an unstable foundation.
Five months to the completion of NaBCO contract, the remaining trainees are wondering whether they would still be absorbed into permanent jobs, or their current temporal employers would only shake their hands and say, “thank you Priscilla it was good doing business with you, but goodbye”.
Some of the NaBCO trainees who are yet to be employed are saying; “our grandfather who is at the Presidency, thank you for rolling-out this flagship programme three years ago. But Grandfather Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo please your grandchildren need permanent jobs. Through your initiatives we have tasted the goodies of receiving NaBCO trainee allowance monthly, we can’t go back to ground zero”.
The NaBCO programme which started three years ago was one of the major Government interventions rolled out to engage unemployed graduates to help upscale them with requisite skills meant to augment their practical work experience is expected to end by September this year.
In a random interview with the Ghana News Agency at Tema, some of the NaBCO trainees noted that even though they were made to understand that the programme had a three-year life-span Government was silent on the way forward as the programme gradually grind to a halt.
“We need to know our fate those of us still on the programme, is government going to extend the NaBCO programme? What is the way forward for those who have not been integrated into the formal workplace? Some of the trainees appealed to Government through the GNA.
Some of them asserted that the remarkable and relentless sacrifices and hard work demonstrated in the corporate environment must be rewarded with permanency, where one can harness opportunities to upgrade their personal capacity, while also being able to fend for their families.
Ms Anita Fonowaa, a trainee nurse under the Health module, appealed to the government to at least extend the already exhausted contract with better condition of service.
Mr Bismark Nortey, another trainee under the Enterprise module called on the government to mechanize trainees into the mainstream job setting as a measure to curb all menaces associated with unemployment.
He stressed that if the government takes the initiative to alleviate the unemployed of their frustrations, it will drastically reduce the youth’s involvement in galamsey, armed robbery and all other menaces that threatened society.
Nana Takyi, a trainee under the Education module expressed that the government seemed to be silent on the future of nation builders, “we need government to clarify the position of NaBCO trainees, whether we are staying on or the programme is coming to end five months from now?
Prince Abban, a trainee with Tema General Hospital said trainees had gained some level of practical work experience for future jobs; “in order not to waste the acquired skills of trainees, the government must prioritise trainees for permanency or support trainees with funding to venture entrepreneurship”.
Madam Regina Addo, trainee nurse admonished the government to institutionalize NABCO with a legislative bill to serve as a formalized platform for graduates to roll-on after National Service as a way of scaling-up with requisite skills while also eradicating the hike in graduate unemployment.
She also appealed to government to lace the scheme with better conditions of service with better remuneration, including SSNIT contributions to help safeguard the future of trainees.
Meanwhile GNA information indicated that, Government since last year started giving indications on the fate of trainees, the NABCO Greater Accra Regional Coordinator, Mr Mohammed Baba Darison in October last said the Ministry of Health absorbed more than 9,000 NABCO trainees permanently while the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) was also processing the permanent engagement of 16,000 trainees.
He disclosed that almost 15,000 trainees were absorbed into the Ghana Education Sector and that government flagship programme, planting for Food and Jobs, had also engaged a considerable number of the personnel. Already, 11,000 personnel had transitioned into their chosen future careers since deployment and were doing well.
He said the programme was not about giving temporary jobs to the youth but served as a “transit point” of equipping trainees with the necessary skills and to empower them and exit them into permanent employment.
Mr Darison stated during interaction with journalists after the Ayawaso East and North Branches of NABCO donated consumables and an undisclosed amount of money to the Maamobi General Hospital in Accra.
Mr Emmanuel Aidoo, Head of Accounts for the NABCO, last year also indicated that NABCO was readying itself to facilitate the successful exit and seamless transition of the first batch of beneficiaries into permanent employment.
Mr Aidoo stated while addressing day two of the results fair in Accra last year and explained that NABCO’s exit plan was to ensure that beneficiaries did not become a burden on their families, society and the nation at large, but were well positioned to pursue retention in existing roles, self-employment and career-focused further learning.
He said ultimately, the exit plan would deliver the requisite value-addition to the entry qualifications and competencies of all trainees, thus, making them both work ready and career-driven in their future pursuits.
NABCO is a social intervention programme introduced by the government to help reduce graduate unemployment. The three-year programme was introduced in May 2018, giving a first batch of 100,000 unemployed, temporary and experienced building job opportunities.
By Philcollins Duah Frimpong