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Government Introduces Free Apprenticeship For JSS Leavers   
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The government has introduced a one-year free apprenticeship programme for Junior High School graduates who cannot continue their education to acquire employable skills, Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu, Minister of Education, disclosed on Friday.

She said under the programme which will begin from the next academic year, a total of 5,000 beneficiaries would be sponsored on pilot basis through informal apprenticeship every year.

Mrs. Iddrisu disclosed this in a speech read for her at a ceremony to officially enroll 15 new trainees into the 2011 four-year mine apprenticeship programme of the Ahafo project of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) at Ntotroso.

The matriculation ceremony coincided with the promotion of 54 apprentices who had successfully completed various levels of their programmes.

Mrs. Iddrisu said the beneficiaries of the programme would be identified at the various districts after the Computerized Schools Selection Placement (CSSP) system had been completed.

She explained that the government under its better Ghana agenda had introduced the programme to create jobs for the teeming youth to enable them to also play their role in national development.

The education minister said the government had recognized the potential of using technical and Vocational Education and Training as a means to transform lives through skills acquisition for self-employment to reduce poverty among the youth.

Mrs. Iddrisu commended the chiefs and people of the Ahafo community for cooperating with Newmont and looking beyond receiving royalties but ensuring that their youth received education and skills training.

She said the initiative of the NGGL in supporting the effort of the government to empower the youth was very much appreciated.

Mrs. Iddrisu indicated that the ministry would collaborate with the mining company and explore avenues for some of the apprentices, particularly those from the Ahafo communities to undertake their training at Newmont’s facilities.

The minister appealed to the NGGL in selecting beneficiaries of the apprenticeship programme to increase the number of females and advised the apprentices to be disciplined.

Mr. Kojo Bedu-Addo, Manager, External Affairs Relations, Newmont Ahafo Mine, said the programme was introduced as a pipeline to ensure access to skilled and trained mechanical and electrical specialists to augment the company’s operational requirements.

He said prior to the introduction of the programme, 19 people were picked from the company’s 10 host communities in 2005 and trained in electrical and mechanical engineering who were subsequently employed by Newmont.

Mr. Bedu-Addo disclosed that the Ahafo mine would spend approximately 25,000 dollars on each of the 69 trainees throughout the four-year apprenticeship programme.

Mr Bedu-Addo said the sponsorship would cover stipends for the trainees, teaching and learning materials, feeding, transportation cost, personal protective equipment and equipment for practical experience.

He said the programme was running alongside scholarship packages being offered to tertiary and Senior High School students from the host communities under Newmont’s Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF) and other social interventions.

Mr. Bedu-Addo disclosed that 1,508 tertiary and Senior High School students were benefiting from the scholarship packages worth approximately 800,000 dollars.

Out of this number, 478 are in tertiary with 1,030 in second-cycle institutions, he said.

In a speech read for him, Mr. Eric Opoku, Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, said the government had acknowledged that Newmont’s social investment in the Ahafo area had increased from a total sum of GHC 1,177,186 in 2009 to GHC 1,577,250.

He said sectors that saw remarkable increases in social investment were human resource development, cultural heritage and sports.

Mr. Opoku called on the mining company to give more thought to economic empowerment and natural resource conservation and development.

The Deputy Regional Minister entreated the chiefs and people of the area to remain law abiding and to co-operate with both the government and Newmont to promote better living standards in the area.
Source: GNA

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