Special employment schemes and the generation of employable skills

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Various attempts at improving the economy to raise the living conditions of the people do not equally benefit all segments of the society. Such imbalance makes some people vulnerable or even more vulnerable or disadvantaged and some social safety net needs to be created to check such vulnerability. Special Employment Schemes (SES) can be seen as one of such attempts for the vulnerable since through these, people can acquire skills or gain support that help them to be productive and contribute to the national development effort. This study attempted to look at the objectives of selected SES in Ashanti, as well as the nature of their target groups. Their activities and the methodology they adopt in offering/transferring skills were looked at, as well as any accomplishments. Both constraints and supportive factors or strengths were delved into, as well as strategies for improvement to ensure dependable efficiency; effectiveness and sustainability. It was necessary to adopt a selective approach to facilitate adherence to the defined focus and so the purposive sampling technique was adopted to select SES for study. Through the use of that technique, SES in seven of the eighteen districts in the region were studied. Primary and secondary data were assembled through formal and informal interviews. Two separate interview schedules and sets of questionnaire (as in the Appendix) were prepared and administered for administrators or project officers of SES studied, and for the beneficiaries or trainees. The study showed that the SES are achieving their objectives in a moderate way, continuously turning out graduands who might either be employed by others or be self- employed. However, there is not much information about how the graduands are actually faring. Hardly are any linkages established between the SES and their graduands. At the same time, the SES are scarcely able to find employment for the graduands. Indeed, for lack of funds, in particular, many graduands appear to be unable to engage in self-employment, though there should be an inclination towards that in the face of limited employment opportunities as explained by government’s freeze on fresh employment and the inability of the private sector to expand. Constraints identified include lack of funds, little recognition by the society and inability to build forward and backward linkages with other bodies. Inability of government to weave SES into a national employment planning framework, lack of commitment on the part of government and poor designing of SES were seen as other constraints. it is to be added that the SES themselves, generally, lack entrepreneurial skills and therefore are unable to effectively deal with problems they are faced with. It is said that problems could express lack of ideas. It is hoped that government would let the new employment policy being formulated take good care of SES by way of increased commitment, more funding, and the establishment of a strong central coordinating body to integrate the activities of SES. Also, tax concessions could be granted companies that offer specific valuable assistance to SES, including provision of tools and equipment, or supporting attachment or experiential training. Furthermore, there would be the need to establish linkages for SES to learn from one another and also attract recognition and assistance from various organisations or bodies especially the District Assemblies. Above all, the SES should be educated to learn to stand on their feet as much as possible, eschewing paternalistic tendencies. However, one factor that will enhance this is their training in management and entrepreneurship. This is envisaged to inculcate in the SES the needed innovativeness and drive as well as proactive behavioural practices. The implementation of such recommendations could enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the SES. However, they all need to occur within a situation of a generally improved economy and a lot of commitment especially on the part of government to offer much more funding and appropriate policies.
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 National Development Policy and Planning, 1998