Ghana Boosts Dressmaking to Create Jobs

The government hopes that teaching more than 600,000 young people to tailor and sew will dent the 25 percent unemployment rate

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ACCRA, Ghana in the Nima Market

When I was small, my dream was not to be a designer, said the Dora, the 45-year-old seamstress.

In a country with an estimated 25 percent unemployment, the Ghanaian government and local NGOS are trying to help more women into dressmaking careers. Nearly 40 percent high school graduates don’t go on to college.

As a government, what we are trying to do is to build more vocational schools at subsidized rates, to ensure that people get training, said Minister of Information Zita Okaikoi.

Authorities also negotiate with the Ghana National Tailors and Dressmakers Association (GNTDA), lowering their taxes in exchange for less expensive apprenticeships for tailors and dressmakers. But for many students, the price of training is still too high.

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It is a practical something, what we do, said Armah Adu Ibrahim, 56, GNTDAs national coordinator. Nearly 40,000 members offer practical sewing skills to over 600,000 young people.

You are trained to cut, sew and deliver, so that you can make money and support your family, he said. If you want to continue to know how to design, there are other schools you can attend to further your education.

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At Nima market in Accra, seamstresses work side by side. The demand for modern clothing, less restrictive and more comfortable than traditional attire, is on the rise. Those who can’t keep up with new trends lose business when dissatisfied customers turn to other dressmakers  and there are many to choose from.

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About fraufiber

Itinerant textile worker and activist.

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