Gyang Bere, Jos
As the cloud of uncertainties on the global economy thickens due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has unfolded nine key tactics as parts of its reviewed vision to tackle the challenges that the pandemic has wreaked on the country’s economy.
The pandemic did not only claim lives, it has also wiped out a lot of industries and sources of livelihood, leading to job losses that have compounded issues of unemployment in Nigeria, an issue the ITF has been addressing through impartation of requisite skills in the country.
The fund had, in 2016, reviewed its vision and mandate to participate actively in the Federal Government’s economic recovery strategy following the recession that engulfed the country.
The efforts have been yielding tangible results through several programmes that were rolled out. It is believed that no fewer than 500,000 Nigerians were trained in all the programmes and over 80 per cent of the graduands are currently earning sustainable livelihoods.
The Director General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari, who unveiled the reviewed vision, noted: “The six-year plan was expected to be our beacon and guide to resolving the numerous challenges that we met on assumption of office. Specifically, the plan was intended to accelerate the impartation of technical vocational skills to Nigerians, aggressively address service challenge and infrastructural deficits; expand revenue generation and a gamut of other strictures impinging the actualisation of the Fund’s mandate. I am pleased to announce that we fully achieved the objectives of the plan with impartation of Technical Vocational Skills.”
Sir Ari said the gesture would address some economic challenges in the country.
He said: “The ITF Reviewed Vision was expected to terminate in 2022 but in view of the numerous challenges that COVID-19 has wreaked on the world – as it not only claimed lives but also wiped out whole industries and sources of livelihoods – the reviewed vision had to be reviewed.
“For instance, in Nigeria, there are projections of a rise in unemployment, with many Nigerians estimated to be out of work by the end of the year.
“It was in the light of the very bleak unemployment outlook and in line with our mandate that management constituted a committee to thoroughly review the reviewed vision, taking into cognizance the pitfalls of the first phase, and the many challenges that are confronting us as an institution and the economy at large as a result of the pandemic.
“What emerged from the committee’s deliberation is a document that we are confident will fully address some of these challenges and drive the current policy direction of the Federal Government.
“The document focuses on nine key areas of our activities namely; direct training services, revenue generation and sustainable funding, resource utilization, special intervention programmes, human capital development, students industrial work experience scheme (SIWES), research and development, automation of business processes and other programmes and services.”
Ari expressed hope that President Muhammadu Buhari will drive Nigeria out of the COVID-19 just as he drove the country out of the recession that submerged the country.
He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has rolled out new economic policies aimed at recovering the country’s economy due to COVID-19, which will create new jobs for the citizens.
“The Federal Government has come up with a lot of strategies to ensure stability in the economy and to also create jobs and wealth so that we will not have a lot of viruses on our hand.
“I assure you that it will not be long that the country will be stable. We will get out of the woes just like we got out of the recession. I am very optimistic and confident that under President Muhammadu Buhari, the way Nigeria got out of the recession, we will also get out of this pandemic stronger as a nation.”
Ari expressed worry that Nigeria not yet a member of World Skills Summit, which avails nations of the world the opportunity to know the trending skills acquisition and impact it positive for the prosperity of its citizens.
He said the ITF had mapped out plans to ensure Nigeria is registered under President Buhari to prepare citizens to function effectively in infrastructural and skills development.
“It is a sad commentary that up to this time of our nationhood, Nigeria is not yet a member of world skills body. It takes skills to prepare the infrastructure, it takes skills to build roads, it takes skills to maintain the infrastructure; everything come under the fore of skills.
“If you do not belong to this world body, you won’t know about the new trend of skills. You won’t be able to identify what is happening now and new trend on skills development.”
Ari explained that the world skills body only sells the trending skills to nations that are their members and lamented that Nigeria has been out of the development trend for long.
The reviewed vision includes curriculum development, E-learning, consultancy services, standardization and certification; micro small and medium enterprises (MSME); technical and vocational skills programmes, specialised programmes in maritime, oil and gas; training contribution/revenue generation; optimal utilisation of skills training centres and vocational wings, among numerous programmes.
Ari has also put in place mechanism to revisit their trainees to know how they are fairing during the COVID-19 with the hope of reimbursing them.