The Industrial Training Fund 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 address at the 2nd National Skills Summit held in Abuja on Thursday on the theme “Institutionalising Apprenticeship and Internship for national development”.
The event brought together Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Mariam Katagum, Minister for Women’s Affairs Pauline Tallen, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry Evelyn Ngige and other stakeholders in the acquisition of skills.
Ari said the choice of theme was deliberate due to the skyrocketing unemployment and poverty rate in Nigeria.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics report on unemployment and underemployment for the fourth quarter of 2020, the number of unemployed people of working age or economically active (15 to 65 years old) was estimated at 122,049,400.
Of these, 69,675,468 Nigerians were ready to work, but only 46,488,079 in paid 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 youth unemployment rate (those aged 15 to 35) increased by 8%, from 34.9% to 42.5%, which was the highest among other age groups. age during the period considered.
But Ari said that despite this high unemployment rate, particularly among young people, a skills gap assessment of six priority sectors of the national economy conducted by the ITF in conjunction with the United Nations Development Organization revealed that rather than the absence of jobs, vacancies still exist in several sectors of the national economy which either could not be filled by Nigerians due to lack of required skills or were filled by foreigners.
He explained that the summit will provide the government as well as 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 research. 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 skill acquisition, lack of necessary policy framework, lack of pedagogical skills of some master craftspersons and insufficient program funding.
“With the high rate of unemployment in the country, it will not be an overstatement to conclude that our current learning model has failed to live up to its objectives and, therefore, the need to consider additional educational options which will be used to strengthen our national learning program.
“I believe this summit will provide us with the platform to finally articulate strategies for a strong learning agenda in the country.”
In its fifty 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, visited and assessed 1,146 companies to determine their potential to provide training of apprentices in identified business areas.
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. employee.
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, through its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), has initiated and implemented a number of programs which have registered positive results, especially in terms of improving the level of lives of Nigerians and development of the national economy.
However, the minister said what the government finds worrying is that although most of its programs are achieving the expected results in terms of jobs created, Nigerians with the required skills are shockingly lacking even as the unemployment and poverty continue.
“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.