Skills for work?: from skills development to decent livelihoods in Ghana's rural informal economy


In developing countries, skills development has been neglected. Skills development does not appear in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) or in many poverty reduction strategies and has been side-lined in favour of investment in primary education. However, it is hoped that discussion of skills development in the 2005 Global Monitoring Report and the forthcoming World Summit in September 2005, will refocus attention on skills training. In Ghana, skills development has received too little actual emphasis, despite the rhetoric of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and more than one hundred and fifty years of preoccupation with making education more relevant to the world of work.

This paper argues that the current state of, and recent trends in, skills development opportunities in rural Ghana fail to adequately address the multiple occupational pathways of the youth, and especially the poor, as they attempt to become fully and productively engaged in decent livelihoods in the rural informal economy. Skills development interventions follow a top-down strategy, with programmes having little labour market relevance, and post-training support that is either absent or weak. Support for skills development in the informal economy, which is by far the largest destination for school leavers, is virtually non-existent. This paper will analyse and critique skills development in relation to Ghana's rural informal economy.

This paper argues that the underlying assumption of the Ghanaian skills development agenda, that skills training solves un/under-employment and leads to economic growth and poverty reduction, will not be realised unless an effective and innovative pro-poor informal economy strategy is developed in order for skills development to result in livelihood outcomes that are both decent and productive.


8th UKFIET Oxford Conference on Education and Development, Oxford, UK, 13-15 September 2005, 29 pp.

Skills for work?: from skills development to decent livelihoods in Ghana’s rural informal economy

Published 1 January 2005