Human resource development and planning in the Ghana wood industry

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The Ghana timber industry, which is the third largest foreign exchange contributor to the national economy after minerals and cocoa, contributes about 6% to the Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) (T.E.D.B., 1996). Wood export earnings have been rising in recent times; from U.S. $15 million in 1993 to almost U.S $200 million in 1995. However, the missing link in achieving its full potential is the lack of skill development. Translated into today’s terms, it is the need for human resource development. The shortage of adequately qualified staff has led to the generation of a lot of waste during wood processing. This has subsequently given rise to low recovery with its attendant negative effects on profits and accelerated depletion of the timber resource. This situation has attracted environmental concerns on the activities of wood processing firms in Ghana. This study was undertaken to produce human resource planning guidelines for the wood industry in Ghana, in order to ensure the availability of the required skills and avoid or minimize redundancies. It involved the designing of appropriate questionnaires on the subject and supplemented with personal interviews. Through a stratified random sampling technique, fifty percent (5 0%) of the population size (forty respondents) was taken and randomly sampled after being categorized on the basis of volume of export as large, medium, and small. Though inherent company problems such as periodic scarcity of wood, especially during the rainy season, unpredictability of foreign contracts, and refusal of top management to release funds for human resource development programmes exist, most personnel managers are able to secure the necessary information for human resource planning and development. Up-to-date personnel records kept by most management have enabled continues monitoring of worker performance. Selection and recruitment procedures were observed by management when engaging skilled labour. Such procedures can be modified to suit the employment of semi-skilled labour. The on-the-job factory training practices of these companies as observed by this study must be supplemented by external formal and informal skill upgrading courses at the W. I. T. C. and the technical institutions in the country. Supervisors who oversee on-the-job training must themselves be trained first. It is therefore important that top management recognises manpower planning as an integral part of corporate planning, and that top management backing for manpower planning is essential.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Wood Technology and Management, 1998