The 2019 report of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 8 spells out inclusive and sustainable economic growth as the key drivers for development.
Thus, countries make efforts to stimulate growth in their economies by boosting innovation, reducing unemployment, increasing trade or diversifying industries.
The UN report suggests that “globally, labour productivity has increased and unemployment is back to pre-financial crises levels while the global economy is growing at a slower rate”. For instance, in 2018, the chances of a young person securing employment were three times lower than it was for an adult.
There is, therefore, the need to intensify efforts to increase employment opportunities, especially for young people and reduce informal employment among others. And this is where entrepreneurship presents itself as a viable avenue for self-employment.
According to the 2018/2019 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), entrepreneurs in developing countries such as Ghana create substantial value for their economies with high-potential ventures. In Ghana, entrepreneurs are perceived to have the capacity to boost the economy and mitigate the spiralling unemployment rates, particularly among the youthful population.
However, the United Nations indicates that as of 2018, one-fifth of the world’s youth were not in education, employment or training, implying they were neither gaining professional experience nor acquiring or developing skills through educational or vocational programmes in their prime years.
Thus, notwithstanding that half of Ghana’s population comprise the youth under the age of 25 and nine out of every 10 of them are literate or can read and write, the reality is, there appears to be a mismatch in skills.
Many young people in Ghana do not possess the practical skills commensurate with the theoretical education they have acquired. Consequently, they cannot secure jobs.
How UPSA is resolving it
It is this mismatch in entrepreneurial knowledge and practical skills acquisition climaxing into growing unemployment levels that the UPSA seeks to bridge. UPSA seeks to match new ideas or technology to market and societal needs and sustainably create and capture value from innovation.
According to the Director of the Centre for International Education and Collaboration and Chairperson for UPSA’s 55th Anniversary, Dr Koryoe Anim-Wright, UPSA by its mandate of scholarship and professionalism was well positioned to equip young people with the much needed entrepreneurial innovation, knowledge and skills to foster creativity, adaptability, team work and collaboration skills, communication and implementation.
UPSA works to bridge the gap through faculty training
As part of measures to develop the entrepreneurial capacity of its faculty, a team led by Dr Frederick Doe, the acting Director of the Institute of Professional Studies of UPSA, visited the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Canada to understudy how that university supports its province to foster development through entrepreneurship.
According to Dr Doe, the purpose of the trip was to understudy international best practices, adopt and develop entrepreneurship as a viable area of study, as well as apply the knowledge and skills gained to develop related courses taught at UPSA such as Entrepreneurship Development and Marketing in SMEs.
“My colleagues and I hope to develop entrepreneurship into a multidisciplinary subject that combines the rigours of research, theory and industrial practice to make students market-ready and support them with seed funds through donations from industry, donors and investors both locally and internationally,” Dr Doe indicated.
“The trip to UNB has been enormously beneficial in terms of research collaborations, the pedagogy of entrepreneurship, interactive workshops and seminars, as well as exposure to learning management programmes such as Microsoft Teams,” Dr Augustine Peprah, a member of the team, added.
Student mentorship and new programmes
In terms of students’ entrepreneurial training, the Dean of Management Studies, Mrs Fidelia Quansah, indicates that the Faculty of Management’s Business Incubation Centre is geared at mentoring students who possess great business models to pitch their ideas in a manner as to attract funding from investors and government.
She added that by the introduction of new courses and programmes with practical orientation such as Impact Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the UPSA was actively preparing its students for the job market.
Recounting UPSA’s entrepreneurship success stories after 55 years … it’s only the beginning.
Mr Edward Twum Opoku, the President of UPSA’s Entrepreneurship Association and CEO of SMEs such as Traingh and Green-Heat Technologies, said the association trained students to develop entrepreneurial skills in the use of Microsoft programmes such as Excel and spreadsheets; Graphic Design; web and video editing.
“We have trained over 500 students in Excel, brought up 12 business start-ups and offered employment to many young people,” Mr Twum Opoku added.
In a related development, the Vice-President of the association, Mr Edward Asirifi, a Level 300 Banking and Finance student of UPSA and graduate of IT institution IPMC, said the students were given training in the use of Entrepreneurial toolkits and Design Thinking.
“Green-Heat Technologies deploys innovation and briquetting technology to convert agricultural waste such as dried coconut husks, palm kernel shells, charcoal dust and sawdust into charcoal briquettes under the brand name OGYA. The mission is to curb carbon emission and deforestation,” the co-founder of the SME added.
“Part of the training combines IT with vocational skills to teach participants bead making, soap making and pastries,” Mr Asirifi said.
Thus as UPSA celebrates its 55th anniversary, it aims to take a giant step towards reducing Ghana’s unemployment challenges by holistically deploying entrepreneurship in consonance with its motto: Scholarship with professionalism.