By Francis Onyeukwu, NAN
Chizoba Anago and Kenneth Chieke shared exciting and inspirational stories at the graduation of the 2018 National Industrial Skill Development Pragramme (NISDP), to prove that skills acquisition could open windows of opportunities which they require as intending entrepreneurs.
The duo in their separate remarks called themselves “ambassadors of Industrial Training Fund (ITF).’’
They spoke during the 2018 NISDP set graduation held recently at Amawbia, near Awka, Anambra State.
Anago and Chieke say they are grateful to ITF for equipping them with skills that have made them employers of labour.
At the ceremony, 300 unemployed youths trained under the 2018 NISDP received starter-packs.
They were trained on the following trades: tiling, welding, fabrication and plumbing/pipe-fitting.
They were part of 11, 000 Nigerians trained under the 2018 programme.
Anago who first spoke, said she was among the 2018 set trained on Event Management, adding that NISDP has unlocked her destiny as she has owned a restaurant.
“I was a bit reluctant to enroll into NISDP skills acquisition when I was informed by a friend to go into the training since I graduated more than five years ago.
“On completion of our training last August, ITF was not forthcoming in giving us starter-packs, I went to the person that informed me of the NISDP and told her that we have completed, but that there was no hope of receiving starter-pack.
“During our interaction, I told her that I had little money and she encouraged me to start something pending when the ITF starter-kit will come,’’ she said.
Anago continued: “I was ashamed and afraid because of the little amount I had, but the person encouraged me.
“She said that what I had was even big to start cooking of moi-moi (beans delicacy) which could serve as take-off point,’’ she said.
She said that after preparing the moi-moi which she distributed to public offices, that she was able to make in-roads in other branches of things she learnt during her training.
Anago stressed that overcoming fear and moral support received from ITF and friends were responsible for her success story in her present restaurant business.
On his part, Chieke, trained on aluminum fabrication by ITF in 2012, told the audience that participating in ITF training was the best thing that happened in his life.
“When I enrolled for ITF training in 2012, I told myself that I must make effective use of the opportunity I had to be trained by the organisation to become somebody.
“At the end of the programme, we were not paid any allowance, we were not given starter-packs by ITF, but I insisted that I must explore available opportunity to establish my own shop since I was convinced that I knew the job.
“Because I have no money to buy initial equipment, I joined others trained on aluminum fabrication to work for people,’’ he said.
“It was through such means that I was able to raise money, bought equipment and today, I have an aluminum fabrication outfit that employed 10 persons and trains people for ITF in Awka.
“I can proudly say that everything I have today came from ITF and my advice is for the beneficiaries to ensure that, they work in partnership with others, especially when you get big contracts,’’ Chieke said.
Director-General of ITF, Mr Joseph Ari, who spoke, said that skills acquisition is key to stemming the high rate of unemployment, and capable of producing a new generation of entrepreneurs.
Ari explains that NISDP scheme is one of the numerous skills acquisition interventions introduced and implemented by the Fund to facilitate the achievements of the Federal Government’s policy on job and wealth creation.
He adds that skills acquisition is a proven solution to combating unemployment, reducing poverty and youth restiveness in the country.
“It is an incontrovertible fact that any society that neglects the development of human capital is bound to retrogress in terms of growth and development.
“In Nigeria, the situation is especially worrisome as even in the face of existing vacancies in several sectors of the national economy, youths roam the streets without any form of gainful employment, giving rise to crimes and social vices,” he said.
The director-general said that since the introduction of NISDP, more than 150, 000 Nigerians have benefited in the following skills: welding and fabrication, plumbing and pipe-fitting, tailoring, aluminum, tiling, plaster of Paris (POP), as well as photography.
Out of the figure, Ari said that 3,900 indigenes of Anambra were equipped with skills for employability and entrepreneurship.
He said that 11,000 beneficiaries, drawn from Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Adamawa, Kano and Anambra states , benefitted in the 2018 programme, while 300 indigenes of Anambra will receive starter-packs at the graduation ceremony.
Ari hints that the organisation targets to vigorously equip more Nigerians with life-long skills in the area of agriculture, construction, transportation and service sectors in 2019.
He advised beneficiaries of the programme to ensure they use the starter-packs to contribute to the boosting of the nation’s economy and avoid the temptation of re-selling their equipment.
“Our Monitoring and Evaluation Template indicate where training took place without the accompanying empowerment tools, the results become less impactful.
“Because of the aforesaid discovery, ITF decided to empower all beneficiaries of its skills acquisition programmes with start-up kits,’’ Ari said.
Mr. Suliyman Ningi, Head Servicom/Anti-Corruption, ITF, Headquarters Jos, told NAN that the organisation would train more youths in the area of aquaculture and livestock during its 2019 programme.
He said there was need for state governments to partner ITF to ensure more unemployed youths acquire skills.
Ningi said that ITF has 43 offices across the country and has competent personnel in every entrepreneurial skill needed for economic development of the country.
He stressed that ITF even offers more technical support to its beneficiaries after their graduation to enable them overcome initial challenges.
Ningi called on state governments to help encourage young entrepreneurs to form co-operative societies to enable them get financial facilities, which is essential for the growth of small and medium firms.
He also stressed the need for beneficiaries to form clusters to enable them share knowledge during their practice, saying, by so doing they will all get stronger and become employers of labour.
Mrs Chinwe Opara, Area Manager of ITF, Anambra, said the class of 2018 held their three months training from August 2018 to November 2018.
Opara commended the director-general of ITF and Anambra Government for their support in the area of youth development and empowerment, adding the support was needed for reduction of youth unemployment and restiveness.
“The NISDP from inception has impacted on our youths greatly in the area of hands-on-skills and the testimonies abound,’’ she said.
Opara praised Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra for his support, and appealed that more support be given to beneficiaries of ITF programmes to augment the starter-packs they receive.
Dr Bonaventure Enemali, Anambra State Commissioner for Youth Empowerment and Creative Economy, commended ITF for providing worthwhile skills to Anambra youths.
Enemali said Anambra Government was ready to partner anybody that could make the youths earn a living through skills acquisition in-line with the policy direction of Gov. Obiano-led government.
“Anambra government is ready to ensure that every youth acquires skills before the end of the second tenure of Gov. Obiano,’’ he said.
He said that the state was willing to sustain partnership with ITF and called on other organisations to emulate the agency in helping youths to acquire skills.
Now that solution to unemployment is handy, government at all levels and stakeholders should sponsor programmes that would boost massive skills acquisition by the youths, as well as provide necessary funds for starter-packs.