Accelerated industrial growth is one of the priorities of Ghana in order to boost the welfare of her citizenry as well as economic development. This therefore, requires that tertiary education provides graduates with job-relevant skills to meet the demands of industry and the economy as a whole. Based on this overarching development objective, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP); The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI); the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE); and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) have in various national documents called for the need to build effective and strong linkages between tertiary education and industry. On the backdrop of these expressed needs of policy makers coupled with the imperativeness of the subject matter, this study was initiated, with its main thrust being the unravelling of the elements of mismatch between tertiary education and the needs of industry in Ghana and the factors underpinning the mismatches.
Using an eclectic mix of methodological approaches – quantitative and qualitative methods, the study was conducted in tertiary institutions and firms within the Greater Accra Region, Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), government agencies mandated to govern tertiary education delivery in Ghana and among graduates of tertiary institutions. Fundamentally, the mismatches uncovered included the insufficiency of certain skills in the labour market that are highly needed by firms: the ability of graduates to analyse data/situations and propose solutions, leadership and innovation, technical skills, and graduates’ ability to take responsibility of own actions and inactions; and the lack of employment opportunities in the labour market. The foundations of these mismatches were unearthed to include the following eight (8) subcomponents: inadequate tertiary education provisions vis-à-vis provisions in Ghana’s industrial policy; ineffectiveness of institutions charged with oversight responsibility for ensuring quality in tertiary education; poor integration of relevant stakeholders; absence of a national development plan linked to tertiary education; inadequate funding; inadequate personnel/ infrastructure at tertiary institutions; the shift in focus of some tertiary institutions; and industrial Challenges. The study further unraveled that the mismatches between tertiary education and skills need of firms have three major effects on the Ghanaian economy: labour market effect, productivity effect, and development effect.
Based on these findings, the study recommended the need to develop a long-term national development plan and a comprehensive tertiary education policy situated within the long-term developmental objectives of the country; revamp the tertiary education governing bodies; enhance both vertical and horizontal integrations among stakeholders in the tertiary education sector; boost up funding for tertiary education; mainstream entrepreneurship course into all departments’ programmes; promulgate a legal instrument to compel industries to open up for research; create a greater enabling environment for the private sector and industry to thrive; and create an integrated platform for dialogue on national provisions for tertiary education and the needs of the Ghanaian economy.