Supporting Youth Employment through the Apprenticeship Model: Outcomes and Lessons from Ghana

In Ghana, the construction industry is booming, growing at an average eight percent per annum due to a growing economy, infrastructural development, rapid urbanization and a rising middle class. The growth of the sector has resulted in an unmet demand for skilled labor. While youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years make up 42 percent of the country’s population, the Ghana Living Standards Survey Round 3 reports that they face high unemployment rates of approximately 23 percent in Accra and 16 percent in other urban areas. The construction sector not only offers significant potential for creating economic opportunities for youth but it also provides more training opportunities than any other sector in Ghana.

The fastest, most cost-effective way for disadvantaged young people to learn construction trades is through apprenticeships. A World Bank study notes that apprenticeship is the most important source of training for workers in the informal sector. According to the study, 80 to 90 percent of all basic skills training in Ghana comes from traditional or informal apprenticeship, compared with five to 10 percent from public training institutions and 10 to 15 percent from non-government for-profit and non-profit training providers.

Given the above, the Youth Inclusive Entrepreneurial Development Initiative for Employment (YIEDIE), a project designed to create economic opportunities for nearly 24,000 disadvantaged youth in the Ghanaian construction sector, determined to leverage this traditional system to create an improved model for high-quality, short-term skills training. Of the total, approximately 14,000 youth were targeted for technical skills training via apprenticeship. This brief outlines the elements of the improved apprenticeship model developed by YIEDIE and examines its effectiveness as an avenue to provide skills training to disadvantaged youth and facilitate their entry into employment, along with providing some lessons learned.