The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has emphasized the urgency to boost apprenticeship scheme in the country towards tackling the nation’s unemployment problem.
The Director-General of ITF, Sir Joseph Ari, who said this at the second National Summit of ITF on Thursday in Abuja, said the present educational system has failed to meet the requisite skills needed in the country.
Ari called for additional educational options that will better the national apprenticeship scheme.
“With the high unemployment rate in the country, it will not be far-fetched to conclude that our current model of learning has failed to live up to its purposes and therefore, the need to consider additional educational options that will serve to boost our national apprenticeship scheme.
” I believe that this summit will provide us with the platform to finally articulate strategies for a robust apprenticeship scheme in the country,” Ari said.
The ITF Director General said the Agency, has never shy away from promoting apprenticeship, hence it’s collaboration with employers of labour in imparting skills in it’s trainees to fill the gap.
“In execution of its function, the Fund promotes apprenticeship/skills training by liaising with employers of labour”.
While lamenting the ever rising unemployment figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, Ari said lack of requisite skills is to be blamed as most existing vacancies cannot be filled by Nigerians.
“Despite this high unemployment rate, especially among the youths, a Skills Gap Assessment of Six Priority Sectors of the National Economy conducted by the ITF in collaboration with the United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO) revealed that rather than the absence of jobs, vacancies still exist in several sectors of the national economy that either could not be filled by Nigerians because of the lack of requisite skills or were being filled by foreigners.
“The question that arises from this paradox is, how can we plug these gaps using apprenticeship? The answer to this question can be found in countries such as Germany, China, Australia, USA and others that at various times faced similar challenges such as we are contending.
“What they did was to pour greater investments in skills acquisition and apprenticeship training,” Ari said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, while commending ITF for its various schemes geared towards boosting employment, expressed confidence that the summit will proffer solutions to the problem.
“What the Government, however, finds quite worrisome is that although most of our programmes get the expected outcomes in terms of jobs created, Nigerians with the requisite skills are shockingly lacking even as unemployment and poverty perpetuates.
” Therefore, dialogues such as we are having today are key to unraveling what the challenges are. To my mind, skills acquisition for Nigerians across the country is vital if we can overcome our challenges.
“Apprenticeship and Traineeship, which is one aspect of skills acquisition will play a key role given the numerous advantages it offers and its efficacy in solving some of the challenges we are facing in climes it has been fully explored.
Earlier, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen, called for the inclusion of women in the design of skills acquisition and apprenticeship programmes.
“Despite growing number of women economic empowerment programmes by the Federal Government, women have continued to experience unequal access to education, skills development and face barriers in securing decent employment and opportunities to thrive as entrepreneurs.
“Our experience has shown that to ensure effectiveness of women empowerment programmes and policies, they must address the challenges faced by womenfolk like financial constraints, limited educational opportunities, workplace discrimination, gender stereotypes, health issues and many more.
“I wish to also use this opportunity to urge (MDAs) to ensure that projects and programmes are designed to encourage inclusion of women in sectors like mining, solid minerals, engineering, aviation and some industries that are up to date considered the preserve of men.
This year’s national summit is with the theme: ‘Institutionalizing Apprenticeship and Traineeship for National Development’.