The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) is advocating a complete overhaul of the country’s education system to enable the government to tackle Nigeria’s rising unemployment rate.
ITF Chief Executive Joseph Ari revealed this during his keynote speech at the 2nd National Skills Summit held today in Abuja.
The theme of the summit was “Institutionalizing Learning and Internship for National Development”.
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The event was attended by Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum; Minister for Women’s Affairs, Pauline Tallen; the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Industry; Evelyne Ngige; and other stakeholders involved in skills acquisition.
Ari said the choice of theme was deliberate due to the skyrocketing rate of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Unemployment and Underemployment Report for the fourth quarter of 2020, the number of unemployed or economically active (15-65) unemployed was estimated at 122,049,400.
Of these, 69,675,468 Nigerians were ready to work, but only 46,488,079 had gainful employment.
The report showed that more than 23 million Nigerians who were qualified and wanted to work were out of work. It also showed that the unemployment rate for young people (those aged 15-35) increased by 8%, from 34.9% to 42.5%, which was the highest rate among other groups. age during the period considered.
Ari said that despite this high unemployment rate, particularly among young people, an assessment of the skills gap in six priority sectors of the national economy conducted by the ITF, in collaboration with the United Nations for development revealed that rather than the absence of jobs, vacancies still existed in many sectors of the national economy which either could not be filled by Nigerians due to lack of required skills or were provided by foreigners.
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He explained that the summit would provide government and private sector actors with the platform to finally articulate strategies for a strong learning agenda in the country.
The ITF CEO said: “This Summit is not an admission of lack of effort but part of the process of galvanizing and deepening learning in Nigeria for national development and a search for practical solutions to some of the barriers we have encountered, some of which include but are not limited to poor public design of the learning system and skills acquisition, lack of necessary policy framework, lack of skills teaching methods of some master craftspersons and the insufficient financing of the programme.
“With the high rate of unemployment in the country, it will not be an exaggeration to conclude that our current model of learning has failed to live up to its objectives and, therefore, the need to consider additional educational options that will serve to boost our national apprenticeship system.
“I believe this summit will provide us with the platform to finally articulate strategies for a strong learning agenda in the country.”
In its 50 years of existence, the ITF CEO said, the agency has pursued its mandate of empowering Nigerians with determination and vigour, training more than 22 million Nigerians.
He said the contributions of these 22 million Nigerians to the growth of various sectors of the national economy cannot be easily quantified.
Ari added that between 2010 and 2019 alone, the ITF liaised with a total of 1,353 companies to promote corporate learning activities, and visited and assessed 1,146 companies to determine their potential to deliver training of apprentices in identified business areas.
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In addition, Ari said the ITF had harmonized 444 existing corporate apprenticeship programs in line with the ITF National Apprenticeship Programme, installed the program in 286 companies and monitored 831 companies, leading to the training of 36,397. , most of which are paid.
In his speech at the event, Katagum said the theme of the summit aligns with the federal government’s current efforts to address the many national challenges that have all been linked to the growing number of unemployed and poor.
She said that the Federal Government had, through its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), initiated and implemented a number of programs which had registered positive results, especially in terms of improving the level of lives of Nigerians, as well as the development of the national economy.
However, the minister said, what the government found worrying was that although most of its programs had achieved the expected results in terms of jobs created, Nigerians with the required skills were shockingly lacking even then. that unemployment and poverty persisted.
“Therefore, dialogues such as the ones we are having today are essential in unraveling the challenges. In my view, skill building for Nigerians across the country is vital if we can overcome our challenges,” she added.