by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
There Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund, ITF, Sir Joseph Ari, says the Fund has spent N29,964,150,308.68 to more than 2,242 companies as reimbursement, which is an outcome of the innovations he brought on board.
The DG revealed that, new skills intervention programmes were introduced, comprising short-term, medium and long-term goals, while existing programmes were expanded, leading to the training of over 500,000 Nigerians with cutting-edge technical skills in four years, and the beneficiaries were empowered with start-up packs.
He expressed concern over the usurpation of functions and responsibilities by agencies acting outside the scope of their mandates. He was speaking on Monday in Jos, the Plateau State capital, in an audience with members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, where he was presented with an Award of Excellence in Leadership and Human Capital Development by the Chapel.
Receiving the award, Joseph Ari said, the award and others he has received in recent times were dedicated to the management and staff of the ITF, who have given him the needed support as their leader, and assured that the award would motivate him to do more for his country and humanity.
According to him, since his appointment, the Industrial Training Fund has conceived and implemented several plans ,namely, the ITF Reviewed Vision: Strategies for Mandate Actualization; the second phase of ITF Reviewed Vision: Strategies for Mandate Actualization; Nine-Point Strategic Plan, the New Policy Direction 2022-2025, and the National Apprenticeship and Traineeship Policy Direction.
Sir Ari said, the first-phase of the ITF Reviewed Vision: Strategies for Mandate Actualization, which comprised short-term, medium, and long-term goals, was considered by many as the most ambitious plan by the ITF since its establishment.
He noted, thus: “Despite the numerous achievements, we have had to contend with debilitating challenges, ranging from policy somersaults, funding limitations and legal issues regarding our establishment Act to infrastructure deficits, among others, that have impeded the full actualization of our mandate.”
The Director General explained that, regarding the Act, they have had to contend with lack of powers to enforce some provisions of the Act and usurpation of functions and responsibility by Agencies acting outside the scope of their mandates.
Added to these, he said, were conflicts due to overlaps of mandate, duplication of functions due to lack of clarity of mandate, and litigations arising from seeming ambiguity of some sections of the Act.
He explained further that, they have also had to cope with the capital-intensive nature of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET); policy inconsistencies and somersaults on TVET, absence of operational National Skill Development Policy, as well as negative public perception of vocational skills training as dirty, dangerous, and dreaded.
He said the drawbacks include limited opportunities for skills acquisition due to the unwillingness of some members of both the Organized Private Sector (OPS) and informal sector to accept students on placement.
According to him, other setbacks have been inadequate Financial Appropriation to meet the huge number of students engaged in SIWES, insecurity, global economic downturn leading to closure and collapse of companies and lack of harmonization of skills development programmes in the countries.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel, Gyang Bere, commended the DG on his quest to “fight unemployment and drive Nigeria out of poverty” through skills provision.