Gyang Bere, Jos
In all the states of the country, chronic unemployment afflicts an incredible number of Nigerians. The dwindling economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a long lockdown of socio-economic life of Nigerians, also led to loss of jobs for millions of Nigerians. And as such, everywhere you go, frustrated unemployed youths and adults walk with bowed heads, unsure of the future.
In a bid to tackle the problem, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) says it has taken a deliberate step in collaboration with the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) to provide technical skills to about 21.7 million unemployed youth in different parts of the country.
Most of those that will benefit from the programme, it was gathered, are vulnerable idle youths and women, many of whom participated in the protests held recently in different locations in the country.
The ITF is the only government agency saddled with the task of providing skills acquisition and wealth creation in the country. The organisation, the reporter gathered, has unveiled nine different programmes to take jobless Nigerian youths out of the streets.
As gathered, the programmes, many of which commenced since the inception of the incumbent director-general/chief executive officer of the ITF, Sir Joseph Ari, in 2016, has over time trained over 500,000 jobless Nigerian’s youths and women through various skill acquisition programmes.
Most of the trainees, who were provided with start-up packs, are today self-sufficient, while some have become employers of labour contributing immensely in the fight against unemployment and poverty in the land.
Ari and the director-general, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association recently held an ITF-NECA TSDP stakeholders’ dialogue Forum. There was also an outstanding trainees awards ceremony aimed at recognizing and appreciating the 2019 outstanding trainees.
During the programme, the ITF gave the outstanding trainees start-up packs in various fields where they were trained to enable them become economically-reliant.
Ari said the lives of the unemployed youths and women would be better off if the country would channel more energy and resources to the provision of massive technical skills. He also stated that such exercises should be supported by state governments, politicians and philanthropists.
Said he: “Data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveals that Nigeria’s unemployment rate as at the second quarter of 2020 is 27.1 million, indicating that about 21.7 million Nigerians remain unemployed. The worst hit are youths between the ages of 15 and 24, which have about 13.1 million Nigerians out of jobs and unemployed.
“Putting this into context, the youth population is also about 64 per cent of the total unemployed Nigerians, suggesting that the most agile working-class population in our country remains unemployed.”
Ari, who gave an overview of the technical skills development and impact in Nigeria, further noted: “The challenges of unemployment, job creation and skills in order for jobs to become a reality for more people is likely to become accentuated as population increases and more youths leave school.”
He noted that the critical challenge Nigeria is currently faced with is the development of a competent workforce and sustained economic growth in the global economy.
In his words, the way out of the impending national and global crisis is the development of quality technical and vocational education and training (TVET), which he noted has been widely recognized as having an important role to play in tackling youth unemployment.
The ITF DG said the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) had in a joint initiative designed the TSDP to promote availability of manpower with appropriate technical and vocational skills to meet the identified needs of industries and the country.
He explained that the Technical Skills Development Project was established as part of a policy response to the outcome of a joint survey of “contemporary manpower requirement in the Nigerian economy” which was presented to the public in 2018.
He said that primary objective of the ITF-NECA technical skills development project and training programme was the acquisition of relaxant knowledge, practical skills and attitudes for employment and entrepreneurship in a particular trade or occupation area.
Ari said the Industrial Training Fund ITF and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association NECA have successfully implemented the technical skills development project (TSDS) since March 31, 2009.
He said one of the most important features of the TSDP is its orientation towards the world of work and the emphasis of the curriculum on the acquisition of employable skills.
“The ITF-NECA technical skills development project is well placed to provide the skilled and entrepreneurial workforce that Nigeria needs to create wealth as well as reduce unemployment and poverty.
“The survey findings had highlighted manpower shortages as well as low competency levels in the following skills areas: mechanical maintenance; pneumatics, hydraulic, machining and pipe fitting (Plumbing); welding, production and welding maintenance; electrical/ electronic maintenance; auto mechatronics; automation and process control and instrumentation.”
He solicited the support of all critical stakeholders for the initiative and model to maximally deliver greater solutions to the nation’s challenges.
“We call on government for support through policy and funding, the project’s scope and outcomes of job creation, reduction of unemployment and poverty allegation would be up-scaled and expanded for greater national Impact.
“The ITF-NECA technical skills development project has contributed to the development of skilled manpower, reduction of unemployment, promotion of entrepreneurship and job creation. In spite of what it has achieved, greater impact can be made with appropriate support at all levels to the issues of technical skills development.
“The transformation going on in emerging economies and developed countries of the world could be traced to deliberate policies and support for youth unemployment, technical and vocational skills.
“If our nation must at the shortest possible time fast-track its development trajectory, concerted effort must be given to this initiative because therein lays the foundation of our national development, economic diversification and growth.”
Minister of State of Industry, trade and Investment, Hajiya Maryam Yalwaji Katagum commended the Director General of ITF and the Director General of NACA for providing technical skills to Nigerian youths.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has encouraged its agencies to engage in public-private partnership to address challenges facing the country. The ITF-NECA TSDP was conceived to tackle the challenges of unemployment, underemployment and restiveness among the youths in Nigeria by providing them opportunity to acquire requisite skills.”
The Director General of NECA said the award ceremony provides opportunity for the project to celebrate outstanding trainees in the different trade areas from each of the centres across the 36 states and Abuja.
He explained that the objective of the programme was for stakeholders of the ITF-NECA technical skills development project to come together and proffer solutions to unemployment in the country.
Also, trainees for the 2019 ITF-NECA TSDP received awards with business starter packs for outstanding performance during the course of their training in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital.