By Ebenezer Ishola, Abuja
Following the recent debate on the employability of Nigerian graduates and the capacity of the potential workforce across board, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has reaffirmed its commitment to develop the country’s human resource for maximum productivity.
Speaking at the 10th interactive session put together by ITF Apapa Office recently, its Director General, Sir Joseph Ari (KSM) represented by the Deputy Director/Area Manager, ITF Lekki Area Office, Usman Sanni Daji, said in line with the policy statement of ITF to provide quality training, promotion and regulation of training standards in all sectors, evaluating and certifying vocational skills empowerment, providing training advisory, consultancy services and providing intervention in skills development, his leadership would not fail to deliver these mandates.
The DG stressed that ITF has adopted multidimensional approaches to enhance human capital development across diverse sectors of the economy, saying that ITF reviewed vision focuses on training and retaining crop of professional staff in different institutional settings at both local and international frontiers to meet the emerging challenges of innovatively supporting the manpower development needs of clients with expert knowledge and skills for productivity improvement.
Ari disclosed that ITF has unveiled strategic intervention programmes code -named “Quick wins”, Medium and Long term goals to equip Nigerians with diverse employability and entrepreneurial skills. Prominent among the ongoing skills programme are: the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP); Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP); Skills Training and Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEP – C); Passion to Profession (P2P); Agri-preneurship Training; ITF/NECA Collaboration; Technical Skills Development Programme (TSDP) amongst others.
He said “in order to enhance the quality of Nigeria’s Technical and Vocational Skills, the Fund procured and installed first of its kind State-of-the Art Mechatronic Equipment at the Model Skills Training Centre (MSTC) in Abuja to provide Two years skills training course on Facility Maintenance Technology, Information and Communication Technology, Electronics and Computer Networking, Mechatronics (Automation/Autotronics) and Culinary Skills in collaboration with Institute of Technical Education, Educational Services (ITEES) of Singapore”.
He alerted that the future of workforce is bleak and dark if urgent and proactive steps are not taken to address skills gap in the work place as it affects women and vulnerable youth particularly.
Equally, Area Manager, ITF, Apapa, Cecilia Olorunleke Olufunke, posited that the dearth of requisite skills has been a bane to Nigerian graduates in some job opportunities. According to her, a report of recent survey carried out by ITF in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) on skill gap shows that most Nigerian graduates lack the capacity and skill required to fill- in some vacancies in the country.
Olufunke said “there are many job vacancies in Nigeria waiting for skilled manpower, ITF/UNKDO survey revealed, but the unfortunate truth is that existing vacancies are always filled by non-Nigerians, since most Nigerian graduates lack the requisite skills. The survey was focused on six sectors thus: Agric & Agro Allied, Metal & Solid Minerals, Oil & Gas related Industries, Construction, Light and Manufacturing and Services” she asseverated.
Speaking on “Managing Employee skills Gap for Organizational Development”, a former Director, ITF; Business Training Department, Ayoade Abike Igbeyi, in her opinion said, though some Nigerian graduates do not possess the requisite knowledge and skills needed to meet future work challenges, however organizations should not be afraid nor too economical to train their employees since Human Resource is the greatest assets in the world.
Ibeyi maintained that any organization which does not train its employees should not blame them for ineffectiveness and inefficiencies. Howbeit, young people to invest in themselves as the only option in order to be relevant in the next century since Nigerian education curricula does not have enough contents and substance to sustain them in the workplace.
She emphasized the need for developing soft skills and prioritizing Research, Learning and development (RL&D) as panacea to poverty. She warned that anyone who stops studying is deliberately killing oneself hence, as it is said “he who stops leaning starts dying”.