Ghana currently has 545,000 tertiary students, out of which about 110,000 graduate annually, with only an estimated 10% securing jobs every year after NSS (excluding NABCO interns).
The challenge is how to make our graduates relevant to the Labour Market and grow the graduate numbers consistent with the economy’s growth path, pace and dimensions.
While at this, the President has outlined an audacious vision of increasing the number of tertiary students to 1.2 million by 2030. That is increasing Gross Tertiary Enrollment from 18% to 40%; more than doubling the current number which is already an uncontrolled source of unemployment.
So what will we do with these graduates, when we have no use for majority of the current 545k tertiary students? 1.5 Million tertiary students would mean an annual graduation of about 350,000, quite comparable to numbers in Europe. But are we aware of the paths, nature and dimensions of economic growth in Europe, before aspiring to grow similar tertiary numbers? What will this Guggisberg (import led) economy do with these numbers?
What are we doing differently today, to make our future graduates Labour Market Relevant apart from the sweet-scented speeches?
I hear Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) all over the place, but where is the STEM? Those entering tertiary in the next 9 years are today in Primary 4 to JHS3. What STEM is happening there? And is STEM alone enough? Do we have a real strategy for stimulating and sustaining production in the labour intensive sectors? Do we have a working strategy for reversing our over dependence on imports, including imported debts? Yes, there is a great 1D1F, but apart form it being a good drop in a bucket, 1D1F is labour intensive only at the lower pre tertiary level of manpower, not tertiary. For instance, a typical 1D1F like Ekumfi Juice may employ 100 low level manpower at factory floor and on-farm, with only 10 graduates at factory supervision (not fresh graduates), admin and operations.
Even in ICT, beyond the tech hubs that provide work spaces and enterprise technical support, what is the financial model for supporting ICT startups? What is the policy? Without an effective financial ICT startup policies (not short term projects that provide financial incentives to the politically connected), we cannot create our Twitter in Ghana, and may end up constricting the outcomes of STEM to job opportunities instead of Job Creators. That connection between STEM Education and the Communications Sector must be fleshed out between the two Ministries.
If you ask me, I think we should rather strengthen post secondary (pre tertiary) skills development and employment rather than doubling tertiary enrollment, as our economy is not positioned for that; not in the next 9 years when oil prospects are depreciating due to the Global Energy Transition to clean energy.