Precision Quality for job creation in Africa

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Ghana needs jobs. Africa needs jobs. Africa needs well-paying jobs in high numbers to satisfy the teeming youth as well as women, the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. Ghana needs same. However, despite the good intentions and well-crafted policies, programmes and activities of governments across the continent, creating jobs in sufficient numbers is proving an elusive goal to attain.

Governments wants their people to have jobs so that they can lead decent and fulfilling lives. The private sector is supposed to lead this charge. However, this is also not happening despite several public, private and public-private initiatives and interventions. Why is this so and are we missing something obvious? What is the experience from other jurisdictions, and can Ghana and Africa learn from elsewhere including in particular the “Asian Tigers”?

PrecisionQuality™ or “Precision Quality” is a term coined by the Design & Technology Institute (DTI) of Ghana to highlight the value of precision industries and quality products and services in job creation. It has multiple dimensions but places focus on precision in industry, services and processes to ensure that goods, services and products are of world-class quality.

Everyone acknowledges that industrialisation would lead to the creation of quality goods and services which will meet market demands and create wealth and eventually jobs. However, this assumption ignores a key fact – the human mindset! PrecisionQuality™ acknowledges that the creation of wealth through the production of goods and services that are world-class starts from “attitudes, mindsets and work ethics” that are “deliberately imparted, consistently delivered and regularly measured for evaluation and improvement”. Other cultures and countries have done it. Unfortunately, this has rarely and consistently been done in Africa. But this can and will change.

In Ghana, the DTI has rolled out training programmes that have so far ensured 100% job entry for all students with some receiving appointment letters before completion of the programmes. PrecisionQuality™ does create high-quality jobs and DTI has generated evidence for this right here in Ghana. Making this happen however requires introspection to appreciate where we have come from and why we, as a country, must develop innovative solutions that will leapfrog us into the current 4th Industrial Revolution.

Historically, educational and training programmes in Ghana and Africa were focused on the civil service as existed pre-independence. There was little focus on soft-skills and the development of the human resource to meet Ghana’s own development agenda. One may even argue that post-independence Africa did not define any industrialisation and renaissance vision.

If it did, it was not well-articulated, especially to the post-independence generation. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) activities was given less focus even though it had been the engine that has propelled all economies across the world. Africa did not learn from other civilisations.

DTI sees this as the missing link in job and wealth creation and has started national and sub-regional actions and “boots on the ground activities” that will leverage PrecisionQuality™ to improve skills, attitudes and employability.

Starting with conversations with young people to understand their needs and aspirations and thereafter subjecting their views to rigorous academic assessment and economic analysis, DTI has developed three key innovative programmes in Precision Fabrication (for builders of all things); Digital Innovation (for ideation, design thinking and sustainable solutions) and Entrepreneurship.

Enrolment in these programmes was given a boost when the Mastercard Foundation partnered with DTI under their Young Africa Works (YAW) strategy in which DTI is expected to generate 40,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2023. This sounds an ambitious target but is achievable purely because of the tried and tested models being deployed and which focus on the complete ecosystem including players from the informal, middle-level and academic settings.

DTI is training master crafts persons in Kokompe and Suame and exposing them to precision quality methods. DTI is supporting some Technical Universities with laboratories as well as PrecisionQuality™ training for lecturers and students alike. DTI is hiring a Professor-In-Residence to lead its PrecisionQuality™ Centre of Excellence that will subject all ideas and programmes to rigorous scientific analysis. DTI has trained several students in the core modules and to date, all these students have gone on straight to full employment.

These early actions from DTI, a private institute established in 2016 by a Ghanaian bespoke metal fabrication atelier, provides evidence of what is possible. The early successes of DTI have moved some of its students away from extreme radicalisation and led them to full employment.

The training and skills development at DTI will have multiplier effects in communities and reduce poverty. Ghanaian students on 3-month internships have created remarkable solutions in several industries including textiles and garments, light manufacturing, sanitation, recycling, agriculture and engineering.

They are proof that the Ghanaian youth can create products and create jobs, but these youths must be in an environment that nurtures their creativity and innovative drive. We at DTI believe that the narrative for jobs in Ghana and Africa is changing from rhetoric into a social-movement and that movement has just started. It may just be the solution that we have all been looking for.

Ms Constance Elizabeth Swaniker, a metal fabricator, is the CEO of Design & Technology Institute, Mempeasem, Accra, Ghana (email: [email protected])