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Head of Skills & Innovation at YES-Ghana speaks on new SKILLS HUB opening soon

The Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana) is due to open a new, vibrant Skills Hub in Accra to serve its community of youth entrepreneurs and young people seeking to take the job market by storm. To understand the organisation’s intentions and what to expect, I caught up with Eric Joshua Saforo, Head of Skills & Innovation at YES-Ghana.

Priscilla Asamani (PA): Thank you for this opportunity, Eric. So, tell us what exactly this soon-to-open Skills Hub is about.

Eric Joshua Saforo (EJS): YES-Ghana has set up a multi-functional Skills Hub in Accra to facilitate the provision of various types of support for business development and consulting services for young people. The facilities in the fully-furnished Skills Hub include a well-resourced library, a computer area with Internet access, training & meeting rooms, and co-working spaces for the incubation of start-ups.

PA: Sounds like a great place. Where is the Skills Hub located?

EJS: The Skills Hub is located in Accra, in a place called American House, East Legon. The team carefully chose an accessible location where young people can easily reach via public transport.

PA: You mentioned ‘young people’. When open, who will the Skills Hub be targeting and what services will be available to them?

EJS: The Skills Hub will welcome everybody. However, our primary focus is on young people who do not have the necessary skills to gain footing in the formal sector. We will facilitate their entry into the formal sector by supporting them in registering their businesses with the Registrar General Department, the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, the local government authorities and all the relevant authorities as required by law. Other hub offerings will include entrepreneurship skills, employability skills, digital skills, soft skills, life skills, job search skills, and financial literacy. We will provide business incubation, advisory services, career guidance, funding, a library, co-working space, and creative meeting rooms. We have recruited and trained dedicated professional trainers and youth coaches who will hold regular training sessions, seminars, and provide coaching services for the youth.

PA: With those offerings, the Skills Hub is set to attract a lot of patronage by young people. Tell us more about opportunities for both potential entrepreneurs and job seekers at the Skills Hub

EJS: The Skills Hub will host an updated online database with vacancies, invitations for tender, and other offers along the entire value chain of the construction, hospitality and other sectors. Young people can use the computers in the Skills Hub to access the database during official opening hours, which is from Monday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Concerning job applications, the Skills Hub will organise regular seminars on job search skills, writing a CV and cover letter, employment interview skills, among others. We will support groups of young entrepreneurs to use their technical knowledge to submit joint bids for tender. Young people who are interested in formal employment can benefit from the use of a well-equipped library with a wide range of literature on entrepreneurship, personal development, and other practical skills. The computer area of the Skills Hub will allow young people to conduct online research into new opportunities, create online profiles for their companies, and compile their job applications and invitations to tender. 

PA: Earlier, you mentioned business incubation. Tell us briefly about what the Skills Hub will offer in terms of incubation and acceleration of start-ups

EJS: As part of encouraging innovation and entrepreneurial spirit among the youth, the Skills Hub will offer incubation and acceleration services for youth start-ups. We have created co-working spaces for young entrepreneurs who may not have office space to operate, complete with highspeed internet, copy centre, and others. Incubatees will have priority access to the library, mentoring, and coaching, as well as business advisory services at the Skills Hub.

PA: These all sound like a well-thought-through programme. Who is paying for this exciting opportunity, and how do you plan to sustain the effort?

EJS: The Skills Hub is a flagship initiative of YES-Ghana. It forms part of the PASEWAY project which is led by Plan International and funded by the German Development Cooperation. We have a comprehensive plan to sustain the Skills Hub beyond the three-year period of PASEWAY funding. It comprises a mix of internally-generated resources, exploring new and additional financing, and leveraging stakeholder cooperation. We owe it to the youth of Ghana to ensure that the Skills Hub remains operational for the benefit of more youth.

PA: Finally, I think young people will be itching to know when this new Skills Hub full of opportunities will be official open. Please add your closing remarks as well.

EJS: The Skills Hub will be officially opened some time in August 2020; we are just completing some finishing touches to the setup to ensure we are ready to give young people the best experience. The official opening date and all other practical information will be announced on our website, social media, and via the mainstream media. I invite every young people seeking change to come and make the Skills Hub their home – a place where they can aspire to be leadership, innovate new solutions for a better society, in order to transform lives in our beloved country Ghana.

PA: Nothing could be more satisfying. I very much look forward to seeing the Skills Hub in operation. Thank you, Eric, for this conversation.

EJS: Thank you Priscilla for the opportunity.