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Scaling technical skills for job creation, poverty reduction

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Infrastructural deficits have been a major challenge in accessing and benefitting from Federal Government’s efforts to train and equip Nigerians with skills through the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) skills acquisition programmes.

Specifically, the very essence of the Fund is to encourage employers to provide adequate training for indigenous employees in disciplines related to their job for further improvement in the manpower capability, which in turn benefits the employers and the country.

ITF was established by Law in 1971, to promote, accelerate, and encourage the acquisition of indigenous skills required in industry and commerce to meet the developmental needs of Nigeria.

Employers, who comply with the provisions of the law, and send their employees to relevant training programmes could have the efficiency and profits of their enterprise further maximised by a knowledge-based skilled work force.

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Most employers and employees do not have the necessary information about the requirements and workings of the ITF or the advantages of training their workers.

However, the Fund has not adequately fulfilled its potential of ensuring that the manpower skills and knowledge required by the country in the 21st Century are provided for the Nigerian economy.

Although, when the incumbent management assumed office in 2016, with Joseph Ari as the Director-General/Chief Executive, it realised the challenges on ground and swung into action to tackle the infrastructural deficits.

Looking at how far the Fund has gone and what it is doing to mitigate the challenges of enhancing job creation and entrepreneurship in Nigerians, The Guardian gathered that for the ITF to achieve its mandate of developing the nation’s human resource, it unveiled an ambitious plan, tagged: “The Reviewed Vision: Strategies for Mandate Actualisation.”

The objectives of the plan were to accelerate the impartation of technical skills to Nigerians through job creation and poverty reduction, and the expansion and modernisation of the nation’s infrastructure for more Nigerians to access the Fund’s services, as well as to enhance its capacities to train Nigerians in relevant contemporary skills.

At the inauguration of the ITF Lagos Island Area Office recently, Director-General/Chief Executive, ITF, Joseph Ari, said the Fund is committed to addressing the infrastructural deficits, which have hindered many Nigerians from benefiting from its vast programmes.
He noted that for the country to achieve the required level of industrialisation, Nigerians must be equipped with necessary skills to drive the process.

Ari, who hinged on the country’s vast population as an economic advantage, maintained that it may become an albatross if it cannot provide a greater proportion of the population with a source of livelihood through the acquisition of requisite skills.

The inauguration of the Lagos office, Ari further said was a confirmation of the Fund’s commitment to full implementation of the plan as well as propel the Federal Government’s agenda with respect to productivity and economic growth through the provision of infrastructural development that will enhance job creation and entrepreneurial development of Nigerians.

The project, Ari said, would address the challenges of service delivery, expand the Fund’s revenue base through training, provide employment, as well as take services to the doorstep of Lagosians.

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The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Adebayo, disclosed that over 450,000 Nigerians have been trained and equipped with skills and empowered with start-up packs through the ITF’s skills intervention programmes. He commended Ari for keeping tabs and piloting the affairs of the Fund through various activities, which have been greatly felt across the nation.

To further expand the infrastructure to enable easier access to its programmes by Nigerians and play a vital role in the fight against poverty and unemployment in the country, Adebayo said the Fund has also inaugurated mechatronic workshops in Kano and Katsina states.

Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented at the inauguration by the Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, Ajibola Ponnle, said with the high unemployment rate in the country, the need to empower youths for wealth and job creation through skill acquisition was pertinent.

She spoke about how Lagos State is equipping the youth through its Entrepreneurship Trust Fund, adding that training is needed for the workforce to achieve its mandate and objectives.

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