The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Design & Technology Institute (DTI), Ms Constance Swaniker, has emphasized the need for a drastic change in the narrative around technical and vocational education to encourage young people to pursue it.
She said when young people began to see that technical and vocational education was not an option but a choice, it would unlock the potential for high-quality training and jobs.
Ms Swaniker was speaking at a fireside meeting with the inaugural cohort of Legatum Foundry Fellows at the DTI campus at Mempeasem, Accra.
The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the Foundry Fellowship in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation in alignment with the Foundation’s vision of a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper.
As Ghana’s first accredited private technical and vocational education and training (TVET) provider, the visit by the Foundry Fellows offered an opportunity to share ideas and explore potential areas of mutual interest between DTI and the Legatum Center at MIT particularly in the areas of entrepreneurship and job creation.
Issues discussed at the fireside chat moderated by Prof Alex Dodoo, Director-General of the Ghana Standards Authority included the gaps in youth employability; scaling up of innovation in Africa; precision quality and the role of the private sector in creating jobs and wealth in Africa.
Ms Swaniker said DTI was set up as a model to help champion and unlock the potential for the acquisition of technical and vocational skills.
“I always tell young people that jobs do exist but the quality skillset the job industry is looking for is what is missing. This will then take us to the quality of training that currently a lot of our technical institutions are offering.”
DTI seeks to champion the need to begin to leapfrog from the current level of training and aimed to transform youth TVET training in the ECOWAS sub-region and to create jobs.
She said the local content law would come alive when the country begins to invest in the quality of tuition and hands-on training that was given out to enable the young people work in industry.
The CEO of DTI asked entrepreneurs not to give up on their convictions even if it doesn’t make sense to others.
“As an entrepreneur, you take a risk and this is a journey I began twenty-five years ago. I spoke about sticking to your conviction when people do not even see where you are going.”
She said the journey of DTI was a difficult one filled with challenges but that helped in entrepreneurial growth.
“The journey and the birthing of DTI have been long coming. I had a vision 10 years ago, however, it only took 2019 for it to actualize. It is sticking to your conviction when it does not even make sense.
“To the young people out there who have visions and do not know what to do, be your biggest cheerleader and listen to your voice. When it is birthed people then begin to say this is what you meant and this is the satisfaction that every entrepreneur gets,” she added.
She hinted at plans to expand to Africa.
The Mastercard Foundation also has a 3-year partnership with DTI under the Young Africa Works Program to facilitate skills training, job preparedness and entrepreneurship development thereby creating 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ghana by May 2023.