Since the global financial meltdown of 2008, governments around the world have been grappling with the challenges of sustaining economic growth through industrialisation and job creation initiatives for their citizens and economies.
The launch of the National Industrial Revolution Plan by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014, set the stage for the reform of the country’s industrial sector, with emphasis on areas of comparative and competitive advantages as well as the provision of jobs for the teeming population of unemployed youths.
However, employers of labour especially in the manufacturing sector, have often complained of the availability of jobs, but the dearth of employable skilled persons. This situation has led to the reliance on expatriates most times to fill the gap, until Nigerians are trained over a period of years to take over from them.
Indeed it is often bemoaned that potential job-seekers especially in the graduate cadre lack the requisite qualification to clinch the myriad of job opportunities industries have to offer. However, in order to correct the situation, President Goodluck Jonathan has utilised interventionist agencies like the Industrial Training Fund, (ITF) and the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), by constantly creating new, exciting and sustainable jobs and developing the nation’s human capital to admirable heights.
An agency like the ITF has made some notable strides and impact which industry stakeholders have recognised as milestones that could turn the odds in the favor of Nigerian youths, if sustained and expanded to cover every state in the country and all sectors of the economy.
Under the present administration, ITF has successfully trained and equipped youths with advanced employable skills in the numerous occupational areas, such as facility maintenance technology (FCT) mechanical & electrical services, information and communication technology (ICT) and culinary skills western and African dishes.
Other areas where the ITF has made highly appreciable impact, according to observers, are in mechatronics (Automation and Autotronics), Electronics, ie Computer and Networking) (ECN),with many of them insisting the training programmes has not only equipped trainees for a successful and rewarding career but also paved the way to long life education and training.
For the ITF however, those in the know said it was obvious the Fund was living up to its mandate. This notion, according to Author and Human Resource Management Expert, Mr Kunle Rotimi, is even more evident, when consideration is given to initiatives the ITF has spearheaded in recent times, particularly since a new leadership headed by Dr Mrs Juliet Chukkas - Onaeko, came on board as Director General and Chief Executive Officer in the latter part of 2014.
Rotimi noted that the ITF through its high quality world class training has to a large and reasonable extent, curtailed social unrest and tension within the country.
He said beneficiaries of the Fund’s training programmes, including ex militants from the nation’s Niger Delta region, has consistently proved themselves worthy wherever they are engaged, saying the unemployment situation in the country would have assumed a more critical dimension, were it not for the efforts and intervention of the ITF and support from President Jonathan.
“Kudos must also be given to the President for having the foresight to review the laws setting up the Fund.The review of the ITF’s law in 2011 has positively changed the face of manpower training and development in the country, as stakeholders and partners now feel more concerned and responsive to their manpower, training and development responsibilities.” Rotimi explained.
Assessing the manpower development initiatives of the ITF, Training Expert and Managing Director of Prot Consulting International, Mr. Sunny Agboju, said Nigerian and the West Africansub-regional economies are better for it.
ITF’s trainees and graduates, according to Agboju, have remained “hot cakes”. He said the level and quality of vocational training, coupled with the limitless opportunities it presents to Nigerian youths cannot be over emphasised.
Speaking on these positives strides, Human Resource Management Expert and Registrar, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria, (CIPM), Mr Sunday Adeyemi, said the recent graduation of many youths in various fields of vocational studies from the Industrial Skills Training Center (ISTC) of the Industrial Training Fund, ITF has brought to the fore the role the scheme is playing to eliminate unemployment.
Describing these positives development by the Fund and speaking of it as a direct manifestation of President Goodluck Jonathan transformation, Director General, ITF, Dr. Mrs Juliet-Chukkas-Onaeko, said the ITF is determined to give the requisite skills to the teeming Nigerian youths, make them independent of government jobs, in order to turn them to entrepreneurs and employers of labour.
The ITF, Onaeko said, is also poised to establish additional 44 skill acquisition centers across the country under its National Industrial Skills Development Programme, (NISDP).
Graduates who had completed the required courses in electronics and computer networking and information and communication, welding and fabrication, auto mechanics, cooling technology amongst others have been produced by the ITF,the DG said.
She noted further that 38 of the centres would be for industrial skill training, while another six would be used for advanced skills training to provide direct employment and empower youths with employable skills.
Source -Daily Times Nigeria