A vibrant economy thrives on high quality human capital available within a country over a period of time. The global economy is currently witnessing a trade war between two of the biggest economies in the world; China and United States of America. The latter has been ranked as the biggest economy since 1871 but in the last few decades, China which was ranked 9th in nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with $214 billion during the 1978 economic reforms currently has a nominal gross domestic product of $9.2 trillion, making the country the second biggest economy in the world.
The key to achieving this outmost economic goal has been human capital development. China has become the global economy’s manufacturing hub mainly as a result of the high quality of human capital within that country.
The Global Human Capital Index Report in 2017 ranked Ghana 72nd out of 130 countries in the world and second in Africa; Rwanda was ranked number one in Africa. The Global Human Capital Index Report also indicated that Sub-Sahara Africa was the lowest ranked region with miniscule investment in formal education.
In recent times many industry experts have expressed the need for the Governments in Africa, particularly Ghana to invest continuously in education in order to sustain economic growth. Notable among these experts is Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi, Head of the Education Global Practice at the World Bank. In his view, even though Ghana has made strides in education, there is still a lot to be done in the shape of investment in quality education if the country intends to sustain economic growth.
As Ghana strives to solidify its middle income status, it is prudent to invest extensively in education to propel economic growth and certainly the Free Senior High School Education policy is a step in the right direction as it makes quality education accessible to all and sundry.
In 2018, Ghana scored 44% in the Human Capital Index and Components. The low performance on the HCI shows that Ghana has not invested adequately in education. In the first quarter of the year, The World Bank hinted that Ghana will benefit from a $4 billion human capital development project in Africa. Investments like this, will supplement the current efforts the government is making in human capital development in the country.
However the goal of achieving a world class human capital in Ghana has become a daunting task. In Africa, specifically West-Africa, Ghana is one of the countries with the highest quality of human capital but this achievement is in sharp contrast of Ghana’s position on the international scene. As the Ghanaian economy opens up to the operations of multinational companies, it is becoming increasing important for Ghana to have a world class human capital.
In April this year, Google opened its first Artificial Intelligence Research Centre in Africa here in Ghana. The research centre will bring together Machine learning researchers and engineers in Ghana with a goal to facilitate the development of artificial intelligence in Africa.
The Nissan Motor Company is currently in talks with the government of Ghana to establish an assembling plant in the country. The presence of Nissan (Renault-Nissan Alliance), the largest electric car manufacturer in the world will develop the automobile industry of Ghana.
The presence of giant multinational companies in the Ghanaian economy requires an upgrade in the educational system to keep up with the world standard. A World Bank report shows that Ghana is one of the top spenders on education in Africa. Allocating more than 6% of GDP to education but a chunk of this investment goes into recurrent wages and salaries instead of investment in infrastructure, teaching and learning which are needed for human capital development.
This year, JP Morgan Chase, the sixth largest investment bank in the world as ranked by S&P Global in 2018 announced plans to invest $350 million to prepare the workers of the company for the future. The new world of work focuses on skills and not necessarily degrees from universities. About 75% of the positions that were advertised in the United States by JP Morgan Chase in 2018 did not require a degree from a university.
The current theory based education system in Ghana which promotes cramming has been of little help in the development of human capital. There are many good examples of education systems around the world that Ghana can take as a model.
The top-ranked education system of Finland can be emulated by drawing lessons that will best improve our education system that is plagued with university graduates without employable skills.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a global report projected that Ghana will witness GDP growth rate of 7.6% in 2019, 6.3% in 2020 and 6.1% in 2021. Without a skilled labour force, Ghanaian citizens cannot secure the jobs the growth in the economy will create and multinational companies who are profit-oriented will have to rely on foreign workers in their operations.
In order to stay relevant to the human capital development in Ghana, universities and other tertiary institutions should collaborate with corporate organizations in giving skills-based training to graduates. The education curricula should satisfy the requirements of the current job market in the country. Students under training in tertiary institutions should be exposed to extensive rigorous practical experience via well organized internships and graduate programmes.
This will equip graduates with the necessary skills needed in the Ghanaian economy. A recent human capital index report of the World Bank indicates that 56% of Ghana’s human capital in the next 18 years will go waste as a result of the poor quality of the country’s education system.
Pragmatic measures in the form of aligning the education curricula will the required skill set on the job market of Ghana will nip the current high graduate unemployment situation in the bud in the long term.
By: Alexander Ayertey Odonkor & Emmanuel Amoah-Darkwah