In spite of major transformation in the educational sector, Ghana is still faced with the misconception that male-dominated career programs in technical and vocational areas are best suited for men. This false impression has undermined the interest of marginalized young women, thereby continuing to discourage them from having career aspirations in TVET occupations.
Ensuring women’s full participation in TVET is a key and effective strategy for empowering marginalized groups, especially women, and addressing the female youth unemployment and underemployment situation in Ghana. The majority of those enrolled in public TVET are men, a social norm that must be changed to ensure that women participate and thrive by taking advantage of opportunities that exist in these high-growth sectors. For example, only 16.7% of the 18,432 Technical Training Institute (TTI) trainees are women and about 26% of the 6,710 National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) trainees are women.
A lot of poor, young women in urban Ghana are faced with social, political, and economic circumstances that limit their ability to overcome poverty, and TVET training can offer a pathway out of generational poverty. But, according to the Ministry of Education, 25.9% of the total number of people enrolled in technical and vocational education and training are women.
Key information about TVET
- Despite calls and initiatives by government and stakeholders, the participation of women in TVET training and occupations is still low.
- The major barrier to women enrolling in Technical and Vocational Training is persistent negative stereotypes, for example, that TVET is meant for men.
- Increasing women’s access to TVET training and related jobs can empower women economically and reduce poverty in the long run.
- TVET training must be improved to phase out outmoded curricula and teaching methods.
- Technical skills development receives very little funding from government or private donors in Ghana.
- Educating girls produces many socio-economic gains that benefit entire societies. These include increased economic productivity, higher family incomes, delayed marriages, reduced fertility rates, and improved health and survival rates for infants and children.
Statistics on women’s underemployment in Ghana
- Although women account for more than 50% of Ghana’s workforce, they hold less than 2% of lucrative skilled positions.
- A World Bank study in 2020 reported that 12% of youth aged 15-35 are unemployed and more than 50% are underemployed, both of which are higher than other sub-Saharan African countries.
- A different report from 2020 estimated the female youth unemployment rate in Ghana at 13.5% and 13.1% in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
Opportunities for young poor urban women in TVET subsectors
- Storage, processing, and marketing in the agriculture sector.
- Masonry, tiling, and plumbing in the construction sector.
- Domestic electrical engineering (wiring), repair and installation of electronic devices, and installation of digital TVs in the energy sector.
- Haulage and transportation services, bus transport services, Uber, Yango, and Bolt services in the transportation sector.
- IT repair, software development, networking and IT technicians, assembling of computers and accessories, closed-circuit television (CCTV) installation in the ICT and electronics sector.
- Auto mechanics, auto electrical, and auto body work in the engineering sector.
- Carpentry, textiles and leather products, detergent making, cosmetics, and beadwork in the manufacturing sector.
Benefits of TVET to young women and society at large
- Women’s economic empowerment: TVET is considered to be among the great social equalizers, creating opportunities for young women to improve their living standards, become upwardly mobile, and break out of generational poverty.
- Enhancement of human resources: At a societal level, marginalization of women leads many countries to lose out on women’s abilities. If more women receive skills training, a country has a more skilled workforce to better develop the country.
- Reduction of household poverty: Empowering women to enter the workforce through TVET allows them to contribute significantly to the family’s income, a key contribution to alleviating poverty.
- Better child welfare: As women are traditional caretakers of their children, if young women are economically empowered, they have enough resources to provide for their homes, especially their children.
- Reduction of gender discrimination: TVET helps young women to integrate into society by attending schools or trainings with their male counterparts.
- Create employment: TVET can help young women increase their chances of gaining employment in formal institutions in the areas of engineering, carpentry, sewing, etc., so they can set up their own business and employ other people.
- Empower women in family planning and sexual/reproductive issues: By engaging in TVET training and employment, young women can improve their ability and understanding and increase their confidence to make their own choices and take charge of these areas of their lives.
- Support national GDP growth: TVET graduates who are either self-employed or engaged in the formal sector help to reduce unemployment, and improve economic activity and overall growth of GDP in Ghana.
- Achieve sustainable development: This is much easier to achieve when women are gainfully employed and have equal access to and control over economic resources.
- Achieving business goals: Women’s participation in non-traditional sectors can increase productivity and increase other benefits for companies, including attracting new talent, reducing risk levels, and improving community impact through hiring local women.
- Gender equality: When women are skilled and gainfully employed, gender equality is enhanced, productivity development outcomes for the next generation is also assured.
Barriers to young women participating in TVET
- Negative perceptions, including that TVET is inferior to general schooling and is male-dominated, affect female participation in non-traditional high-growth trade areas.
- Poverty: where parents or guardians are unable to afford the cost of training.
- Lack of school infrastructure and limited resources to address the specific needs and challenges of young women, including hygiene and sanitation.
- Culturally-specific barriers, including child marriage, and prejudices against education.
- Religious beliefs, such as conceptions that women’s role is to take care of the house, and not to work or do certain jobs.
- Unequal access to education for women.
- Unbalanced distribution of domestic work between men and women has a huge impact on the ability of young women to access and participate in TVET.
- Health and safety issues continue to be a barrier to women’s participation. Women have been raised to believe that they don’t have the physical strength for labour such as construction work.
- Lack of confidence: Most women think they cannot succeed in certain TVET fields. For example, in the construction, wielding, masonry, and tiling fields, most women think it is male-dominated and they might not succeed.
- Sexual harassment: While bribes are demanded from men, women are frequently asked for sexual favours before they are hired for formal sector jobs.
- Teasing and mockery: Women who pursue TVET-related jobs are often subjected to these kinds of behaviours.
- Lack of support systems for child care.
- Unconducive environment, for example, industry not having changing rooms and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for female workers.
- A lack of gender-responsive policies to support women’s participation in male-dominated sectors.
- Outdated and outmoded training delivery methodologies and apprenticeship training models that are not keeping pace with current industry trends: In Ghana, the sector uses obsolete and inadequate training equipment and tools, there is a lack of training materials, an inadequate number of qualified instructors with the requisite practical experience in industry, and a lack of linkages between training institutions and industry.
Ways to attract and retain women in TVET
- Using role models to educate and sensitize: Highlighting women who have been successful in TVET-related careers can challenge existing social norms that only men can work in such industries.
- Providing incentives for non-traditional businesses to include women in their hiring practices: Incentives such as tax waivers could motivate businesses to hire and retain women in their organizations.
- Massive promotion of available TVET training programs and their benefits to women: Despite the availability of funding for TVET training, knowledge of such opportunities is low among youth in low-income, urban communities and their relatives. Thus, strengthening and deepening the process for sharing information with the public will help attract more women in the sector.
- Improve accessibility of important TVET information: Social media and other social networking platforms are some of the preferred channels for the young, urban poor to access information.
- Strengthening the capacity of training providers: Adopting new and interactive approaches can help maintain the interest of young women who enroll in TVET training. Also, regularly integrating practical and hands-on training can facilitate understanding and engagement.
- Employer policies: Government and other relevant bodies can encourage employers to adopt policies that increase the ability of women to exercise their rights at the workplace. For example, policies that protect women’s jobs while they are on maternity leave can go a long way to encourage women to enjoy their reproductive rights while keeping their jobs intact.
- Establish child care support systems for female TVET trainees: This should be addressed from the national to the local level to ensure female enrollment in all TVET trainings.
- Enact policies to encourage early uptake of TVET: The Ministry of Education could enact policies to encourage young women to pursue TVET fields at an early stage, for instance, at the secondary school level.
Stakeholders/sectors that need to be involved to increase women’s participation in TVET in Ghana
- Parents and relatives
- Educational institutions
- Community leaders
- Chiefs and other traditional authorities
- Religious leaders and groups
- Civil Society Organizations
Existing government policies and programs on young women’s involvement in TVET in Ghana
- Gender Responsive Skills and Community Development Project (GRSCDP): The GRSCDP, under the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs, is responsible for promoting girls in non-traditional professional trades. The program gives scholarships to girls to enroll in a skilled trade program, paying 100% of training expenses. The program has also allocated a number of computers to technical schools to ensure that the young women receive upgraded training.
- Women in Technical Education Department (WITED): WITED operates under the auspices of the Ghana Education Service in the Ministry of Education. It focuses on women in technical education and assists young women in technical schools by linking them with women in technical fields. The organization works in all 10 regions and their respective districts.
- Girl’s Education Unit (GEU): GEU is a unit within the Basic Education Division in the Ghana Education Service that promotes removing barriers to girls’ education. The GEU facilitates, networks, influences, focuses, plans, evaluates, and collects/distributes information data and good practices. In addition, the GEU works with a group of community facilitators who conduct mobilization and sensitization activities in communities and provide follow-up with families to support girls’ education.
- Tech Needs Girls: This project builds on the experiences and achievements of a development partnership with the private sector called “Female Professionals in Electronics,” that is currently being implemented in Ghana by the German Development organization, GIZ, in cooperation with the Korean International Cooperation Agency, and Samsung. Over the past two years, this project has supported four TVET schools to implement ICT and electronics courses.
CCTV: Closed-Circuit Television
COTVET: Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (now called
COTVET (Commission for Technical and Vocational Education and Training))
GEU: Girl’s Education Unit
GRSCDP: Gender Responsive Skills and Community Development Project
GSDI: Ghana Skills Development Initiative
GSS: Ghana Statistical Service
NYP: National Youth Policy
TVET: Technical and Vocational Education and Training
WITED: Women in Technical Education Department
Where can I find more resources on this topic?
- Amankwah R.O., Kodom M., & Afrane O.O., 2020. Gender Analysis Study- Draft Report, WUSC-EUMC.
- Amoamah M. A., et al, 2016. Gender Inequality In TVET Institutions – Bridging The Gap: The Case Of Accra Polytechnic https://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/MTM/article/viewFile/28229/28975
- Baah-Boateng, W. 2020. Africa Youth Employment Insights: Ghana Brief. https://includeplatform.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Youth-Employment-Insights-Ghana-1.pdf
- Britt, C., et al, 2020. USAID/Ghana Gender Analysis Report. https://banyanglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/USAID-Ghana-Gender-Analysis-Report.pdf
- Dadzie, C. E., Fumey, M., & Namara, S., 2020. Youth Employment Programs in Ghana: Options for Effective Policy Making and Implementation. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/34349/9781464815799.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
- Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), 2013. 2010 Population and Housing Census, National Analytical Report. https://statsghana.gov.gh/gssmain/fileUpload/pressrelease/2010_PHC_National_Analytical_Report.pdf
- International Finance Corporation, 2013. Accessing Private sector contribution to job creation and poverty reduction: Findings on gender. https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/2125f97c-da65-4fb0-aba7-1d554bfe55bb/full-study-gender.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CVID=jRvG5JC
- Ministry of Education, Ghana, undated. 2019 / 2020, TVET National Profile School Year Data report. Downloadable at: https://moe.gov.gh/iis-technical-vocational/
- Ministry of Youth and Sports, 2010. National Youth Policy of Ghana. Towards an Empowered Youth, Impacting Positively on National Development. https://www.youthpolicy.org/national/Ghana_2010_National_Youth_Policy.pdf
- Saskatchewan P., 2016. Needs Assessment of the TVET System in Ghana as it relates to the Skill Gaps that Exist in the Extractive Sector. https://saskpolytech.ca/about/organization/documents/needs-assessment-ghana-tvet-system.pdf
- World Bank, 2010. Education in Ghana: Improving Equity, Efficiency and Accountability of Education Service Delivery. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/3012?locale-attribute=es
- WUSC, 2020. Consultancy study on gender labour market analysis of three cities in Ghana (Accra, Kumasi, and Sekondi-Takoradi).
Contributed by: Linda Dede Nyanya Godji, freelance journalist
Reviewed by: Juliana Ohenewaa Amoako-Twum, Public Engagement & Advocacy Officer,