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Nigeria’s unemployed hits 33 percent high – ITF D-G

…Says, “Lack of requisite skills a contributory factor.”

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

Sir Joseph N. Ari

It has been observed that, unemployment in Nigeria today is at over 33 percent high, as over 23 million Nigerians that are desirous to work cannot find jobs, mostly because of the absence of requisite skills.

This is because poverty is equally on the rise, with some estimates placing the number of Nigerians that are living in poverty to be over 90 million.

The Director-General of Industrial Training Fund, ITF, Sir Joseph N. Ari, made the observation at a Media Briefing in Jos on Monday, on the ITF’s ‘Strategic Policy Direction 2022-2025.’

Sir Ari noted that, “In the face of this our population, it has continued to soar with the World Bank estimating that Nigeria might hit 216 million by the end of this year.

“This is equally worrisome in the specter of the out-of-school children, which according to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), is projected to be over 18.5 million.

“Although, the Federal Government and, indeed, governments at all levels, have implemented measures to tackle these challenges, it has become increasingly obvious that efforts have to be redoubled by all and sundry for us to effectively rid the country of these challenges,” he said.

The Director-General further explained that, it is based on the above and, in line with their mandate, of developing a vast pool of skilled manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the public and private sector of the national economy, coupled with resolutions at recently concluded ITF National Skills Summit held in Abuja.

Mr. Ari noted that, this was found imperative to review and refocus on their strategies to address the above challenges and to meet the skills requirement of the nation, in line with global best practices.

On their strategies, he said, they have considered the need to scale-up their challenges by leveraging on their three Es (Experience, Expertise and Expansive network) deployment of technology for wider coverage and more flexible service delivery.

Mr. Ari stressed that, the new policy framework, which has as its theme, ‘Re-Engineering skills for Sustainable Development,’ has external and internal components.

He disclosed that, the internal components of the plan entail Value Reorientation, Industrial Development, Commercialization of ITF Facilities, Alternative Funding Window, Deployment and Promotion.

Others are, Annual Budget Preparation and Revenue Generation – these are intended to drive the external components of the new policy direction, which covers Standardization and Certification, Technical and Vocational Skills Training Programmes, Skills Intervention Programmes, Electronic and Virtual Learning and Optimal Utilization of Skills Training Centers (STCs) and Vocational Wings (VWs).

The DG noted that, Standardization and Certification are the core aspect of the mandate of the ITF. Specifically, Section 2 sub-Section c and d  of the ITF Act 2011, vests the ITF with the responsibility to set training standards in all sectors of the economy and monitor adherence, and evaluate and certify vocational skills acquired by apprentices, craftsmen and technicians,  in collaboration with relevant organizations.

According to him, “The Fund will focus on ensuring full adherence to standards and regulating vocational skills training outfits through the accreditation of skills training center and certification of all skills training, in line with the (ITF) Act.

The Fund will develop National Occupational Standards (NOS), evaluate and certify apprentices, technicians and craftsmen, train and certify learning and development professionals and create, and maintain, a data bank on skills training.

Furthermore, he said, “The Fund is set to refocus on Technical and Vocational Skills Training for employability and economic growth by facilitating the institutionalization of the National Apprenticeship and Traineeship System (NATS), and will collaborate with relevant public and private stakeholders for NATs.

He narrated that, “The extent duration of skill intervention programme, in line with NATs, is six months for Traineeship and one year for Apprenticeship, and will be provided with start-up pack after completion of the training.

“The Fund intended that, outcome of this strategy is to have at least a total of 27,000 skills and employable youths; 18,000 training youths under the NATS and 9,000 youth under the NISDP and other intervention programmes and increased SMEs and Entrepreneurs to meet the nation’s economic need,” he said. 

Sir. Ari added that, “The Fund will upgrade three of its skills training centers to ‘Center for Advanced Skills Training for Employment’ (CASTE) in Lagos, Kano and Jos, as well as well-equipped training centers and vocational wings with 450 training instructors annually.”

In an effort to skill-up the Nigerian youths, ITF recently sponsored the prize for the best MSME in leather works at the recently-concluded Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) National Award, which was hosted by Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, where Daniel Dung Gwom, who runs Jmofs Enterprises in Jos, was awarded with a car by the Vice President for winning the award. The ITF has also presented him with a powerful 3D printer to enhance his work.

The DG appealed to youths that “The time has come for us to realize that government alone cannot provide all the jobs that Nigerians desire. Acquiring a skill is vital to tackling our socio-economic challenges.”

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