ITF, UNIDO partner to bridge skills gap

 Acting Director General, ITF, Dickson Onuoha

Acting Director General, ITF, Dickson Onuoha

Worried about the high rate of unemployment in the country, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has announced plans to bridge skills gap shortages to reduce the figure in the country.

Indeed, ITF‎ stated that there are lots of vacant positions waiting to be filled, but stressed that the required manpower is few to occupy various available opportunities.

The Acting Director General, ITF, Dickson Onuoha, explained that to address this situation, ITF has collaborated with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to establish Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) to be driven by employer-led organisations that covers specific industries to support employers in developing and managing apprenticeship standards.

According to him, developed countries have used SSCs to improve skills and occupational standards, maintaining that when model takes-off in Nigeria, it will reduce skill gap shortages, improve productivity and boost the skills of their sector workforces.

Onuoha during an interactive session with journalists, added that the agency has commenced implementation of the 5th phase of the National Industrial Skills Development Programme ( NISDP) in 18 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In his words: “In all, a total of 9500 youths that is, 500 youths per State and the FCT, aged between 18 and 35 years, will be trained in 38 carefully selected trade and craft areas and based on their projected value addition to citizens of the State’s and their potential to provide a sustainable means of livelihood for the youth in their respective States.”

He pointed out that the NISDP which commenced in 2012, was designed to furnish the human capacity requirements of the National Enterprises Development Programme (NEDEP), a scheme put in place by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, to fast track the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).

He said since inauguration, it has equipped 74,000 youths with skills for employability and entrepreneurship, saying most of the youths have become successful entrepreneurs while others have been gainfully employed.

He stated that from 2017, plans are underway to ensure that‎ several phases of the programme run within one year, saying that the ITF is also considering the possibility of several streams witinh a phase to get more youths to benefit from the programme.

He noted that the management is considering the establishment of additional skills training centres in Aba in the South-East, Port Harcourt in South-South and Jalingo in the North-East, stressing that these new centres will provide citizens of the geopolitical areas the needed exposure to practical hands-on experience and contribute in reducing the rate of unemployment in the country.

He added that in light of the result of the interim report of ITF and UNIDO skills gap survey, the agency is set in motion processes to commence graduate up-skilling programme for the purpose of re-skilling over 3000 graduates of engineering and technology with vocational and entrepreneurial skills in the six geopolitical zones.

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