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SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AND TECHNOLOGY FAIR OPENS IN ACCRA

The second Skills Development and Technology Fair 2014, an exhibition of the outcomes of the financial support by the Skills Development Fund (SDF) to selected grantees across the country, is underway in Accra. 40 selected grantees are exhibiting their products in the two-day event.The SDF project is an initiative by the Government of Ghana, with a US $ 60 million support from the World Bank and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to address the critical skills and technology deficit within the productive sectors of the economy.

The Fund, managed by the Project Support Unit (PSU) of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), 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 the productive sectors of the Ghanaian economy.It also provides grants to Science, Technology and Research Institutions to develop innovative technology required by industry to be efficient and competitive in the global arena.

The SDF journey started in 2011 with 6 grantees and a grants value of US$ 750,000 in 2012, growing to over 400 grantees with a grants value of US$ 39 Million in 2014.

The statistics indicate that as at the time of the first SDF Fair, grants totalling GH¢40 million had then been awarded to about 200 firms, institutions and organisations.Total grants commitments have, however, increased to GH¢ 87.2 million for 511 firms, institutions and organisations while disbursements have moved from GH¢11 million a year ago to GH¢45 million.In a keynote address delivered on her behalf at the opening of the Fair, yesterday, the Minister for Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, noted that the skills and technology development agenda was key to every country’s industrial development.

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman said it was, therefore, the aspiration of government and its development partners to provide sustainable funding to address the deficits in skills and technology within the key productive sectors of the economy.

She urged beneficiaries of the Fund to be guided by the objective of nation building and the spirit of value for money, transparency and accountability in the utilization of the grants received.

She also called on beneficiaries of the Fund to ensure that the outcomes of SDF support reflected in quality improvement in their productivity, incomes and profit to create avenues for increased employment, adding that it was only through the development of their respective businesses the jobs could be created and incomes increased.

She said to ensure that a workable framework was instituted to sustain the Fund, the Ministry of Education had tasked COTVET to initiate the process.

In his remarks, the Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Tia Sugri Alfred, acknowledged the close and effective working relationship between MESTI and COTVET to support the development and infusion of innovative technology into industry.

Dr Alfred said MESTI’s partnership with COTVET had been given a real meaning through the Ghana Skills and Technology Development Project (GSTDP) which aimed to stimulate skills and technology-based development.

He disclosed that in pursuit of the objective of GSTDP, COTVET, in 2013, provided a grant of US $2.5 million to five science and technology research institutions to support market-led, industry-oriented researches that would benefit the private sector.

For his part, Mr Mathew Dally, Project Co-ordinator and Head of COTVET PSU, noted that no nation developed without a competent, middle-level technical manpower base.

Mr Dally cited the examples of Britain, Germany, South Korea and Malaysia which transformed their economies through skills and technology development.

He said SDF had, therefore, been working diligently towards the realization of government’s agenda to find a lasting solution to the problem of irrelevant curriculum or training content in the country’s training institutions which rendered skills in the private sector outmoded and irrelevant to fast-changing industry trends.

Welcoming the audience, Mr Sebastian Deh, Executive Director of COTVET, said the items on exhibition depicted a certain level of hard work and diligence by PSU which ensured that due processes and procedures were followed in managing the grants.