Education, skills, and labor market outcomes in Ghana

Type Working Paper
Title Education, skills, and labor market outcomes in Ghana
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
Trade, rapid advances in science and technology, and intensified economic competition are shaping the demand for skills in countries worldwide. These forces have increased the attention given to the ability of education and training systems to prepare youth for entry to the world of work and to support more seasoned workers in adjusting to structural changes taking place in labor markets.1 Concern exists whether skill deficits have or may become a constraint to Ghana’s further growth and capacity for reducing poverty. Noting the limited opportunities for skills development beyond basic education, a White Paper was prepared in 2004, building on the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) for 2003-2015 prepared by the Ministry of Education Science and Sports (MOESS) and calling for increased emphasis on technical, vocational, and agricultural education and apprenticeship.2 In a sector review, MOESS refers to evidence of a widespread disparity between what education institutions produce and what the labor market wants.3 This paper begins with an overview of the landscape for skills development, starting with basic education and moving on to consider options for further education and skills development, comparing school-based and post-school options for training and highlighting issues of access, quality, efficiency and financing in various programs. The second section estimates returns to education and training, looking for evidence of growing skills gaps, and the third section reviews the ESP recommendations for sector reforms involving skills, and benchmarks recommendations against regional and international experience, emphasizing priorities. Overall, the analysis shows that though Ghana has made substantial investments in basic education, improvements in quality are necessary. Furthermore, education and skills training are influencing wages and earnings directly by raising the productivity of the worker and indirectly by promoting entry into more lucrative forms of employment. Therefore improving skills development is key to the attainment of middle-income status. To this end, Government needs to continue improving the quality of basic education while opening access to post-basic education and improving articulation between formal education and training programs, including traditional apprenticeships. Government can play an important role in promoting the efficient operation of training markets by engaging employers in setting skills standards, focusing on development of a quality assurance framework, and linking public financing of training to outcomes.

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