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The fault in our industrial training fund, educational system

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If the rising level of unemployment in Nigeria is to be remedied, then we have to redefine and reposition the operation of Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to make its core responsibility to help students and people develop their gift.

The best way to make industrial training meaningful is to place people in the area they are gifted. Of all the paths that can take a man to high places in life, there is only one that seldom fails, and this is the path of our gift.Against popular belief, our gifts and passion, and not our degrees, certificates or education are our tickets to high places in life.

The ITF Act came into effect on October 8, 1971. The purpose of the Act was to establish a Fund- the ITF- to be utilised to promote and encourage the acquisition of skills in industry or commerce in Nigeria with a view to generating a pool of indigenous trained manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the economy. Over four decades later, the ITF is yet to make any noticeable impact. Like many other initiatives, the key issue is that of design and implementation.

Though, its current Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Joseph Ari, has brought in some novel initiatives, but the future of ITF is in the hands of renewed thinking leaders.I was having a discussion with an industrial training student in my establishment currently around for a six-month industrial training. Though she is studying Chemistry in the university, but she is passionately gifted in photography.

Most students are studying what they don’t even like in tertiary institutions, and further placing them in industries that have nothing to do with their passion and gift is a waste of their potentials. I am privileged to be the editor-in-chief of a youth magazine, called Maximum Impact, and it is amazing to know that the organisation that completely handled the design and publication of the magazine is founded by a medical doctor that graduated from the University of Ibadan.

I believe strongly that if the ITF is redesigned to train students in their area of gift and passion, rather than course of study, it will create ample alternatives for graduates to fit into industries that are in the area of their gift and course of study, instead of looking for jobs only in their area of course of study.The inspirational story of Bayo Omoboriowo, the personal photographer of President Muhammadu Buhari and chief official photographer to the State House is both intriguing and reflective.

Bayo studied Pure and Applied Chemistry at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and graduated in 2009 with a 4.26 CGPA. Today, Bayo has never used his degree, as he is totally sold out into photography, which has actually taken him to places.Using myself as a case study, I studied Pure Chemistry in University of Ibadan and afterwards studied Analytical Chemistry (M.Sc.) in the same university, but the truth is my heart has always been in writing, but nobody ever sees any sense in it except me.

I did my industrial training at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). How I so wished I did it in a print media organisation, like The Guardian, where my writing skills could have been horned and developed. Since there was no external encouragement, I had to spend a good number of years developing myself. Today, people know me more as an impactful writer than a learned Chemist. I have been privileged to meet great people in society just because they came across my writings and not because of what I used seven years in the university to study- Chemistry.

People will only shine in the area they are gifted. No matter what you study in any institution, you will only find your place in life when you are placed in the area you are gifted. We need to redesign the ITF to cater for students’ unique passion and gift. Imagine what will happen if every student is placed in the area he/she is gifted and has passion for industrial training for a period of six months. Our institution will begin to churn out graduates that can access opportunities in the line of their course of study and also in the area they are gifted.

Someone once said that old ways wouldn’t open new doors. If new doors will ever open to millions of graduates coming out from our tertiary institutions every year, then we must create alternative and sustainable openings to students by developing them in the area they are gifted.Any education or system that does not teach us to discover, nurture and develop our gift and uniqueness is a waste. Education will never make you wealthy; it will only provide a platform to express your gifts. Real wealth lies not in your educational qualifications; real wealth lies in your gift.

The bitter truth we all refuse to acknowledge in life is that your education, certificates and degrees will not take you to high places; they ONLY give you the platform to express your gift and passion.The purpose of education is to stir up and ‘fan’ our gift into flame. Real education should ignite our gift and passion, but it is sympathetic to know that the present day form of education extinguishes our gift.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:14: “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.’’ The kind of education we practise today teaches more about things and not ourselves; it has been “flawfully” designed to neglect and abandon our personal gift. One of the greatest philosophers that ever lived, Socrates, summarised the whole essence of education thus: “Man, know thyself.” The key to success is in discovering your uniqueness and talents. The best education should show us how to unleash our potentials and gifts. We must redesign and integrate properly, the discovery of our gifts into the process of our education.

Myles Munroe said: “To know the right places for people, we must know their area of gifting.” As an entrepreneurship coach, I have come to realise that the easiest way to assist unemployed youths is to help them find the area they are gifted and have passion for. I have come to realise that the best of us is always within. Youths must take out time to diagnostically navigate within themselves to discover their area of gift and core competencies. You can monetise that thing that you are so passionate about.

The Nigerian educational system has prepared us to get addicted to looking for casual jobs that we sometimes end up becoming casualties. Thus, the fate of the nation lies in the Nigerian youths discovering themselves and nurturing their gifts.One of the major reasons why unemployment will continue to thrive in Nigeria is simply because up to 90 per cent of Nigerian graduates went to school to study what they are not passionate about. Many parents are culprits in aggravating this, as many students go to tertiary institutions to live the lives that their parents were unable to live.

Every parent wants his/her ward to become a medical doctor, lawyer, an engineer, etc, without any consideration for what the wards are super passionate and gifted for.Dear parents, that you struggled to become a medical doctor and you were unable to does not mean your children should be forced to live the life that you should have lived. That your children carried your genes and surname doesn’t mean they don’t have a life of their own.

They will surely preserve your legacy, but their life mustn’t be the extension of yours. They are designed by God to fulfill a purpose and when we tinker selfishly with this divine design, we make them to settle for less in life.


In this article:
Gbenga AdebamboJoseph Ari
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