Increased Demand For Skills Acquisition Drives Infrastructure Development, Says ITF Boss

By Obinna Amaobi

Director General and Chief Executive of Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Joseph Ari, has said that the construction of Awka Area Office in Anambra State, was in line ITFs efforts towards expanding access for more Nigerians to acquire skills through the  provision of enabling infrastructure as well as to enhance efficient and effective delivery of services in line with its core mandate.

Speaking during the official inauguration of Area Office of the institute at Awka, Anambra State capital yesterday, Ari, who was represented at the occasion by the Director, Standardisation, Certification, and Consultancy Service Department, Mr. Akpan Idongesit Asuquo, added that the existing ITFs infrastructure expansion was also informed by increasing awareness Nigerians of the importance of skills acquisition as a pathway to sustainable livelihood.

“This realisation has led to an influx of Nigerians that are desirous of acquiring skills but are denied such opportunities because of the absence of facilities,” he added.

In furtherance of deepening infrastructure expansion initiative ITF under the current management of Ari has between 2020 and 2021 inaugurated office complexes,  vocational wings, modern library complexes, block of classrooms among other infrastructures in Lagos Island, Kano, Gusau, Awka, Owerri, Ikorodu, Ikeja, Yola, Maiduguri, Jos among other places.

Anambra State Governor, Prof. Charles Chukwumma Soludo, expressed his profound felicitation on its milestone achievements in fulfilling its mandate of providing efficient labour force.

Speaking at the occasion through his Commissioner for Youths Development, Mr. Patrick Agha Mba, the governor said that as a person saddled with the responsibility of handling the affairs of the youths in the state, he was aware of ITFs exploits in the area of youth’s entrepreneurship development.

He said, “I have not only seen the impact of your numerous programmes, I am also feeling the impact in my ministry and we have become partners in progress in sharing similar vision and forming formidable force in solving the problems facing our youths, especially unemployment.”

On the issues of youth’s unemployment, the governor of noted that youths unemployment has continued on the upward trajectory in Nigeria as a result of the number of graduates churned out of various institutions of learning who failed to secure employments on graduation leading to all forms of social vices including banditry, cultism, kidnapping among others.

He said that a lot of efforts and resources should be channelled towards positively transforming the youths, else they would channel their energies towards vices.

Speaking on the relationship between the state government and ITF, the governor said he was delighted to note that their relationship has graduated to partnership as ITF provides facilities for Anambra State government as its Entrepreneurship Development Institute for One Youth Two Skills scheme. He averred  that the scheme, which adopts an amplified model of age long “Igba boi” in Igbo land, was targeted at creating 1,000 youths millionaires and 130, 000 private sector businesses yearly.  He thanked ITF for the opportunity it provides towards youths human capital development.

In his goodwill message, representative of Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council and traditional ruler of Okpalaeze in Orumba North Local Government Area, Igwe Fred Okoli, described ITF as very important agency in the area of skills acquisition and job creation adding that the edge advanced countries have over Nigeria is in the areas of human capital development.

Other commendations came from representative of captains of industries, Dr. Johnny Anyadiegwu, who appealed to ITF to empower the Area Office to enable them achieve their set objectives while the representative of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esomone, Prof. Dennis Aribodo noted that ITF facilities provide an enabling environment for both the students of the university and other bodies to acquire skills. He assured that Unizik would continue to explore areas of collaboration and opportunities.

According to ITF Awka Area Manager, Mrs. Nancy Ekong, in her welcome address, the area office which was established in November, 2002, operated from a rented apartment at Abakaliki road, Awka. However, the “visionary and revolutionary” leadership of the Director-General and his management team ensured that the well-equipped Area Office and technical/vocational wing “where we can conveniently train employees of both government and private sector” came to fruition.

She also thanked Anambra State government for donating the land on which the edifice was constructed amongst other support systems from the government while seeking for more collaboration and partnership to be afoot in the business of developing the nation’s manpower, similar to what obtains in other states. Explaining the functions of ITF, Ekong said in addition to the Industrial Training Fund, the organisation is a foremost Human Resource Development Organisation charged with developing the nation’s human resources and boosting skills acquisition for smooth and efficient operations of economic activities in the country.

The organisation in numerous skills empowerment programmes for the youths, the physically challenged and women, that have been very helpful in empowering them financially while at the same time, eliminating restiveness and other social vices, we equally engage in other specialised training activities such as:

unscheduled training programmes (usually directed towards the needs of specific organisation); In-House Safety Training;

Identification of Training Needs (ITN);

Performance and Productivity Improvement Training (PPIT) and Consultancy Services including Research and Diagnostic Studies;

Medium, Small and Micro Enterprise Development (MSME); Technical and Vocational Skills Training (TVST) among others.

The high point of the occasion was cutting of the tape to declare the edifice formally open and cutting of the cake.

Since assumption of office, Ekong has to her credit attracting strong government collaboration and partnership, implementation of the skills acquisition program

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