The Design & Technology Institute (DTI), is fast becoming the model private Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institution and Precision Quality Centre of Excellence in Ghana thanks to the success of its training and national engagement. DTI is currently the only dual TVET school in Ghana: it provides theoretical and hands-on training within a production school context, the only such institute in West Africa.

In less than 5 years of full operation, DTI has demonstrated the powerful impact of focused holistic training towards skilling young people and making them ready for the world of work. Already, all learners in the first 2 years of operation of DTI are in full-time employment or are continuing their studies and assessments from multiple agencies and an IFC audit have concluded that “the training offered by DTI is excellent”.

DTI was founded in 2016 on the Accents & Arts (A&A) factory floor to provide the youth with work-readiness skills and to bridge the gap between industry and academia. This occurred because of the huge and unsustainable demand on A&A to provide internship opportunities for young people, most of whom went on to get well-paid jobs after the training. The impact was huge and the Founder of A&A had no choice but to expand the offerings by establishing DTI and formalising the training and internship opportunities to DTI students as well as graduates from technical and traditional universities in Ghana and West Africa.

In 2020, DTI, in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, embarked on a 3-year project to create 40,000 job opportunities for young people with a focus on females and the vulnerable, a target which has been achieved according to assessments by an independent Labour Economist at the University of Ghana. These job opportunities were created by giving formal training to young people in the dual TVET-cum-production school at DTI, training small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and master-craftspersons; training academic and business scale advisors and effecting systems change through collaboration with state actors to shape national policy in precision quality and standardisation.

DTI believes that the traditional TVET approaches to training are overly theoretical and do not equip young people for workplace realities. Our unique “production school” programmes provide learners with regular and adequate hands-on, on-the-job training as part of the curriculum. Students, regardless of their field of study, learn by doing and have the opportunity to engage in real-world projects. They also take part in extracurricular activities, something which is missing in traditional TVET schools, but which is extremely essential to build the soft skills necessary for success in todays’ world of work.

DTI currently offers three programmes of study namely: Precision Welding and Fabrication; Design Innovation; and Entrepreneurship. The school has a strong focus on hands-on training and students divide their study time between the factory floor and the classroom. After completing 12 months of dual training, they spend 6 months entirely in industry where most of them have ended up being employed even before graduation. Others have enrolled for Level II of the DTI programme or have transitioned into the DTI Innovation Hub to perfect prototypes they developed at school for the job market.

DTI, which is accredited by the Commission for TVET (CTVET), believes in a systems-change approach to transform the world of TVET and create millions of jobs for Africa’s youth through modern, hands-on training. In this regard, DTI collaborates actively with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, CTVET, the National Development Planning Commission and the Ghana Standards Authority.

The efforts of DTI have received commendation from the Mastercard Foundation, the MIT Legatum Centre, the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University and the Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA).  

So, what makes DTI unique and what makes the DTI model so effective in skilling young people and getting them into jobs?

State of the art teaching facilities: At DTI, we believe that creativity is key to innovation. That's why we offer our students the opportunity to experiment with augmented reality, digital fabrication, robotics, and machinery in our machine workshop and Makerspace. Our unique model of student support means that we are always on hand to assist in learning and using existing cutting-edge fabrication technology. We have a team of experienced staff who are passionate about helping students reach their full potential. Whether learners are interested in designing a new product, building a robot, or simply exploring the possibilities of augmented reality, DTI has the resources and support needed for success.

Strong industry partners: Connecting youth to job opportunities is a critical aspect of DTI's interventions. By engaging closely with industry groups and employers, DTI has fostered strong linkages and access to job opportunities for its graduates. This has proven to be an effective pathway to job acquisition. DTI has active partnerships with 42 Workplace Experience Learning (WEL) partners and 21 Summer Internship Partners representing 14 industries. These partnerships provide work-ready skills and employment opportunities to youth trained by DTI.

Demand-driven training: As part of its mission to ensure demand-oriented skills development, DTI, with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), launched three Programme Advisory Committees (PACs) for the programmes run at DTI. These PACs are in Precision Welding and Fabrication, Design Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. This is the first of its kind by a TVET institution in Ghana. The PACs will allow DTI to tap into the expertise of industry experts to improve curriculum development and increase the employability of learners for current and future jobs. The committees will also provide feedback on the teaching methods and learning materials used at DTI.

Proven track record of success: DTI has a proven track record of success. Over the years, the school has produced hundreds of graduates who have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields. DTI graduates, who are either SSS students or university graduates, are highly sought-after by employers, and more than 60% of DTI graduates gain employment within six months after graduation.

Supportive and nurturing environment: DTI is committed to providing its learners with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce. The school offers a supportive and nurturing environment, and its staff are dedicated to helping students reach their full potential.

DTI is a true change agent in Ghana, committed to preparing young people for careers in entrepreneurship, design innovation, and precision welding and fabrication. It will be expanding the training offers to include Agriculture and Agri-business and will scale up its unique Precision Quality training to SMEs, artisans and master craftspersons. DTI is blazing a trail for Ghana and for Africa and is breaking glass ceilings in TVET. The DTI model definitely requires consideration as Ghana and Africa grapples with strategies to ensure full and sustainable employment for the teeming youth.

By Constance Elizabeth Swaniker


Acquire Skills for a Changing world