The Director General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari, has expressed the organization’s readiness to deepen its skill acquisition programme so that the nation can begin to export skills to other countries as soon as possible.
Ari stated this during an interaction with journalists in Jos, the Plateau State Capital.
He said from 2050, Nigeria’s population will rise to 500 million and that if such population is skilled, the nation will undoubtedly be exporting overwhelming skills to the rest of the world.
According to the DG, in a study carried out by Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the findings revealed that lots of jobs are still available, but many Nigerians lack the skills to match those jobs, adding that the education system has not helped the matter in the sense that emphasis has always been on certification rather than acquisition of the necessary skills.
He decried the situation where Nigerians are waiting for government jobs which are hardly available, saying that the richest men in the world, Africa and Nigeria today never worked for the government.
The ITF boss said the organization had embarked on the training of over 150, 000 Nigerians since the assumption of the current management.
As part of its six year “Strategies for Mandate Actualization”, it was also able to train 60, 000 Nigerians from 2, 300 organizations, just two years into its implementations.
According to him, 50, 000 youths and other vulnerable groups were equipped with skills through several programmes which include the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP); the Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP); Training on Wheels and the Technical Skills Development Project (TSDP) among others.
ITF, he said, has also boosted Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SMSE) in several ways and has entered into partnership with over 40 corporations in order to boost the sector.
Ari enjoined all and sundry to join hands with ITF to develop the skills of citezenry, saying that it is the only way the people will be self reliant and the nation’s economy will grow.
Meanwhile, he said the current management met the organization at the brink of collapse, especially what happened between 2014 – 2016 when the organization suffered economic depression, but did all it could to resolve the problem and moved the organization ahead.
“During that period, there were industrial actions both in Jos, the headquarters of the organization and across its offices nationwide.
“Hardly a week passes by without workers closing the gates during protests.
” At some point, the ITF headquaters was even moved from Jos to Abuja, and all that.
“This was upon bad press where many reporters were writing damaging stories about the organization. That was when we came on board in 2016. But since coming on board, we have resolved the issues both externally and internally, and now there is peace between the management and the workers and between the management and its external public/customers.
“Even the pensioners stipends have been increased by 45% and 9 months arrears have been paid to them in that respect. By and large, since coming on board, many things have been restructured, many people have benefited from the activities of ITF and the organization has trained over 150,000 Nigerians in different skills, especially in welding and fabrication, plumbing, tailoring and fashion design.
“300 youths in each of the states of the federation are periodically trained on the aforementioned skills and after completion, a start-up pack is given to them. And from the monitoring and evaluation so far, the number of entrepreneurs across the country has increased.
He maintained that, “Skill is the currency of the 21st century and we have endeavoured to boost that across the country.”