Government is to scale up the Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP) to cover illegal miners in 14 districts in the four Regions of the North and three districts of the Eastern Region.
A total of 1,400 beneficiaries are being assessed for the selection in the scale up programme.
Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, speaking at a press briefing to announce the graduation of beneficiaries of the programme, said government had invested GHS2million into the programme, which consist of assessment of the beneficiaries, enrolment, equipment and contract engagement with Master Craftsmen.
The purpose of the ALP is to provide decent work through creative projects within a safer environment for socio-economic wellbeing and also ensure that they gained employable skills and knowledge needed in shaping their lives and communities in a sustainable manner.
She said the philosophy behind the skill training component of the programme was to promote decent work and economic opportunities for young people, who directly or indirectly engaged in illegal mining.
She said currently, 329 trainees out of the 500 in the institutional level training have been selected for graduation.
She said the beneficiaries, who were trained by the Department of Community Development acquired vocational skills including; Dress Making, Needle Work and Craft, Beauty Culture, Decoration, Entrepreneurial skills.
For the technical skills the beneficiaries trained in Electricals Installations, Auto Mechanic, Plumbing, Graphic Design, Welding and Fabrication, Building and Construction, Leather Works and Carpentry.
Hajia Mahama said these beneficiaries, who went through a one-year training were supplied with start-up tools and equipment worth GHS700.00 per trainee.
The Minister said another phase of the programme was the community level training with focus on income generating skill training and planned to run between three months to three years.
She said in this case, Local Master Craftsmen, trainers and experts from the Department of Community Development at the District level, Business Advisory Centres have been identified to offer practical training in some specific trades like soap making among others.
She said contracts had been signed with 68 Master Craftsmen for the Community Level training and in all 367 were benefiting.
"The selected trades for the Community Level are catering, gari processing, plumbing, bead making, mushroom production, grass cutter farming and honey production, fish farming, snail farming, glass and metal fabrication, art and craft work and bamboo works," she added.
She said the programme was not only to impact the trainees with the requisite vocational and technical skills and expertise to enable them establish themselves, but it was also to affect the labour market, thereby serving as skilled work force for local companies and consequently contributing to government's One District, One Factory policy.
She expressed the hope that the beneficiaries would continue to work hard to provide support for themselves and their communities.
Mr Ernest Ohene Ntow, a beneficiary, on behalf of others expressed gratitude to the President for the initiative to support illegal miners to stop illegal mining.
He commended the programme team for their continue support throughout their training period and pledged to use the training to better their lives and avoid illegal mining.
He urged other illegal miners to take advantage of the initiative to learn a trade that they could use to better their lives and alleviate poverty from their communities.
The some of the Districts implementing the programme are Atiwa East and West, Abuakwa South and North, Birim South and North, Amansie West, Central and South, Atwima Mponua, Wassa East, Mpohor, Amenfi East, Amenfi West, Bibiani Anhwiaso Bekwai, Upper Denkyir East and West and Asutifi North.