The Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari, has identified the acquisition of technical skills as a critical driver to economic diversification and realisation of Nigeria’s national development plans.
Ari stated this while presenting a paper entitled: “The Place of Skills in National Development: the ITF Perspective” during the recently concluded 11th National Council on Industry in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The DG in a press statement signed by Head, Public Affairs, Suleyol Fred Chagu
described Skills and National Development as Siamese twins that nothing can separate them.
“The failure of various development plans is on poor leadership, bad followership, corruption, poor strategies, poor execution of policies and programmes, underdeveloped, irresponsible and parasitic private sector and weak civil service.
“Despite these problems, the Nation’s development plans would be achieved with greater investments in skills acquisition.”
He said as a part of efforts to address skills shortage in Nigeria, the Fund in collaboration with United Nation Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) conducted a Skills Gap Assessment Survey in Six Priority Areas of the Nigerian Economy; agro-allied, oil and gas, construction, metal and solid mineral, light manufacturing and services.
He said the report of the survey shows that skills were lacking in various sectors of the economy.
“To plug the gaps, the ITF had trained over 450,000 Nigerians in various skills through its intervention programmes to accelerate economic growth. Half of the numbers were already earning sustainable livelihoods either as paid employees or entrepreneurs in their various skills.
Ari said that the intervention programmes were designed and implemented in a way that guaranteed sustainability, adding that the programmes were geared towards addressing the target of sustainable development such as gender, equity, poverty alleviation, economic growth, peace and justice.
The DG explained that lack of harmonisation of skills development, the unwillingness of employers to accept students seeking placement under the Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES), Nigerians’ poor perception and attitude among others, were the challenges confronting the implementation of ITF intervention programmes.