By Emmanuella Anokam
Uyo, – The Industrial Training Fund (ITF), has called for urgent formulation of National Skills Policy to fast-track skills development and empowerment in the country.
Mr Joseph Ari, Director-General, ITF made the call while speaking with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Uyo on the sideline of the 11th meeting of the National Council on Industry, Trade and Investment.
Ari explained that Nigeria has never had a national skills policy, adding that ITF had been advocating its formulation to give a clear roadmap on how to accelerate skills activities in Nigeria.
“Without the policy, we will be roping in the dark that is why you find a lot of players of skills development working at cross-purposes without a guide. But such policy will give us the direction to take if created.
“There is no nation that its development is on account of skills that does not have a policy on skills.
“Nigeria needs to do that, it is when we have a clear roadmap that we can comfortably be considered to be a member of the World Skills,’’ the ITF boss said.
In a presentation entitled “The Place of Skills in National Development: ITF Perspective, the director-general called for the building of additional Industrial Skills Training Centres in the six geo-political zones and revamping of moribund ones.
He also called for implementation of the Job Creation Strategy Document by the Federal Government, amendment of the ITF Act and harmonisation of Skills Development Programmes by government.
According to him, there are also other challenges which impinged on the Fund’s effort in skills development such as the huge cost of Technical Vocation Educational Training and its poor perception attitude by most Nigerians.
He decried the unwillingness of some employers to absorb students seeking placements for Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) and inadequate appropriation to meet huge number engaged in SIWES.
Ari said that the ITF keyed into the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) aimed at job creation, economic and revenue diversification, import substitution, export diversification and broadened government tax base.
According to him, the NIRP document mandated the Fund to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in the implementation of National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP).
In furtherance of the NIRP document, he added that the ITF conducted Skills Gap Assessment Survey in the six priority sectors of the economy in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
The ITF boss listed the sectors as Agro-allied, oil and gas, construction, metal and solid mineral, light manufacturing and services.
On the impact of ITF intervention programmes, he said that it had equipped more than 450, 000 Nigerians with various skills for employability and entrepreneurship for economic growth.
“Information from our monitoring and evaluation process indicates that more than half of this number is earning sustainable livelihoods as either paid employees or entrepreneurs,’’ Ari added.
He advised that government at all levels, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and relevant stakeholders must be committed toward reducing the constraints confronting skills development in the country to exploit the benefits.
This, he said would ensure sustainable development in tandem with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) enunciated by the United Nations.
The meeting of the national council organised by the ministry which opened on Dec. 2, would end on Dec. 6.
The theme of the programme is “The Role of Small and Medium Businesses in Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria: The Way Forward”.