Gyang Bere, Jos
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, and with the Nigerian economy enveloped by uncertainties, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) says it has reviewed its vision, tagged ‘Strategies for Mandate Actualisation,’ to address the economic challenges posed by the pandemic in the country.
The reviewed vision, it was gathered, has nine focal areas bordering on economic diversification and recovery, with a view to help revive and boost businesses that were grossly affected by the pandemic. Already, some organisations have shut down their businesses.
Some of the areas are direct training services, revenue generation and sustainable funding; resource utilisation; special intervention programmes; human capital development; Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES); research and development; automation of business processes and other programmes and services.
However, the director-general (DG), Sir Joseph Ari, viewed the period as a challenging one, following the targets set for the agency in view of the economic distortions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DG said the agency was set to escalate and amplify its activities, especially with regard to skills acquisition and empowerment of youths and indigent segments of the society. The agency would also strengthen the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises sector through need-based training in view of the vital importance of the sector to national growth and development, especially in the light of the economic diversification agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari, it was gathered.
Ari, who said the programme has commenced since, reiterated his commitment towards making life comfortable for vulnerable Nigerians through skills development.
The DG made the pledge while assuming office following his reappointment for a second tenure by President Muhammadu Buhari. He spoke at the ITF Centre for Excellence Bukuru, Jos, Plateau State.
His words: “With the economic difficulties we are passing through, this will no doubt impact on the number of people we train and the revenue generated. So what this calls for, is to be more creative and innovative.
“We are still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged economies across the world. In Nigeria, as a result of the pandemic, unemployment has risen just as many Nigerians lost their jobs. We are in a national emergency that requires every Nigerian to join hands and work together. As a leading capacity development institution in Nigeria, we will urgently and significantly contribute to assist our stakeholders and the economy to overcome this challenge.”
Ari further said the Fund was mindful of the fact that the impact of the novel COVID-19 has affected government negatively in the area of revenue generation, just as it had affected many Nigerians that have lost their jobs. He noted that there has been closure of businesses too, as as most managers are compelled to cut cost.
He explained that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the fund has also expanded its training infrastructure by completing and commissioning several projects. These, he said, include mechanics’ workshop and administrative block at the ITF Training Centre in Kano, Katsina area office with administrative and vocational wings, Lagos Island area office, an e-library, stores at the headquarters and a classroom block at the staff schools to boost productivity.
“The onus will be on us as the leading human capital development institution to provide as many Nigerians as possible with the necessary technical skills for them to set up on their own.
“In the absence of white-collar jobs, skills acquisition is the only sustainable solution to effectively tackle the problems of poverty and unemployment and the attendant implications on our society. Government expects this from us and we cannot afford to fail,” he explained.
He said, in the last four years, the agency has trained over 500,000 Nigerians with skills acquisition across the six geopolitical zones, which has become a major source of livelihood for the beneficiaries.
He expressed gratitude to President Buhari for appointing him DG of the ITF, which provided him the atmosphere to contribute to skills development in the country and said his reappointment will witness massive transformation.
“I also wish to express my appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for giving me another opportunity to further contribute my quota to the development of our dear country by reappointing me for another four years.
“Besides the President, I also express gratitude to my supervising ministers in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment who recommended me for reappointment and gave us the wings to fly by generating policies that provided the needed impetus for us to achieve not only our targets but also thrive and excel,” he said.