On Friday, 26th August 2022, the Mentoring and Students Services Unit (MSSU) of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) organised a session to educate 3rd and 4th-year students about the opportunities available in the mining sector. The event was dubbed “Time with Gold Expo (Opportunities in the Mining Sector).
Ghana Gold Expo is an initiative focused on promoting zero mercury (responsible gold production) in local mining and providing a platform to advance against mercury in mining, following the Minamata Convention on Mercury and Gold trade traceability.
In a brief presentation dubbed "The Mining Hub and Internship Programme," Mr. Steven Blessing Ackah, Executive Director, Ghana Gold Expo, mentioned that as a company, they believe that one of the best ways to give back to society is to give to schools. Also, looking at the unemployment rate in Ghana, the Board of Ghana Gold Expo thought it wise to provide mentorship programmes to universities across the country. According to Mr. Ackah, currently, Gold Expo has a programme known as the "Earn to Give Initiative Programme." He added that the programme aims at providing mentorship, internship, and training opportunities for students. Mr. Ackah emphasised that several things are happening in the mining space and it's about time students get involved.
Subsequently, Hon. Kwabena Okyere-Darko Mensah, Western Regional Minister & Chair, Ghana Gold Expo, spoke about "Career Paths for Ghanaian Youth in the Mining Sector". Talking about the Earn to Give Initiative, he indicated that the programme will support students and guide them in accessing information and opportunities in the mining sector. Hon. Mensah believes that Ghanaians can do better than they're currently doing. He mentioned that according to the nation's statistics, the adult population on the Voter Register is 17 million. And out of this figure, those in the public sector are 681,000, which is just 5% of the total adult population. This means the remaining 95% are outside the public sector. According to him, this will always continue, so he urged the students to never have their plan A as working in the public sector—that should be plan B. Moving forward, he mentioned that the mining industry is one area that the 95% should be looking at. He spoke about the numerous resources that Ghana is endowed with—kaolin, columbite, mika, salt, clay, iron, tetarite, among others. He also talked briefly about the discovery of lithium—the mineral of the future—in the Central and Western regions of Ghana. He stated that a lot has to be done to meet these opportunities.
Moving forward, Hon. Mensah averred that the ending of tertiary education begins a new search. That is, the search for a proper and favourable career, and the most difficult part of this endeavour is being sure about anything in particular. He mentioned the employment opportunities in the mining sector as one of the most important factors determining Ghana's suitable long-term prosperity. In this regard, he commended the Minerals Income and Investment Fund for focusing on local content support that will create jobs for Ghanaian youth in the long run. He stated that the Minerals Income and Investment Fund is in the process of rolling out a 50-million-dollar investment that will focus on an incubator programme designed to help formalise the small-scale sector and also create local "champions". This incubator programme will allow students to get into the mining business.
The Western Regional Minister continued his presentation by saying that the mining sector is very innovative and always presents new opportunities for Ghanaians. As it stands, various mining companies in Ghana have launched a host community programme that supports students to have their National Service without difficulties. The opportunities available include a 6-month graduate exchange and training programme, scholarship for deserving students (mostly girls), and special job placement for graduates, among others. He specified that any of the host communities are allowed to participate, and there are avenues for those who are not in the host communities. Additionally, he hinted that large-scale mining companies are willing to recruit recent graduates from any of the universities in Ghana.
To end his presentation, Hon. Kwabena Okyere-Darko Mensah advised the students to keep the following in mind before they apply for jobs: work-life balance, compensations, benefits, job security, advancement and technical know-how.
Lastly, Hon. Abraham Odoom, a Management Member of Gold Coast Refinery, also spoke about a few opportunities in the mining sector that have been untapped.
He hinted that the Ghana National Service Scheme has taken him as their consultant for a 50,000-acre land that is currently available for use. Out of the 50,000 acres, 20,000 will be used to train selected service personnel. He urged interested persons to be part of the programme, The Integrated Agric programme. According to Hon. Odoom, the remaining 30,000 acres of land is where each service personnel who participated in the training will be given 100 acres to do as they please. He urged the students to take the opportunity when it presents itself.
More so, he mentioned that the lands that have been destroyed in Western Region are going to be reclaimed, and they will be used to cultivate rice and maize. He encouraged students in the Western Region to be ready for this reclamation. To end, he said, “In my life, I don’t know problems. I see problems as challenges, and in those challenges are opportunities to solve a problem. Every challenge is an opportunity”.
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