From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
The Director General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari on Wednesday outlined programmes of the Fund for the year.
He also said the country will continue to lose the battle against the blight of poverty, unless most of its citizenry are equipped with competitive technical skills.
Ari disclosed this while briefing journalists at the Fund’s headquarters in Jos, the Plateau State Capital.
He said, “This year, which we have declared as the year of ‘Skills Escalation for Prosperity,’ we have commenced processes for the implementation of more skills intervention programmes.
“The Programmes earmarked for implementation are namely: the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), the Construction Skills Empowerment Programme (CONSEP), the Skills Training and Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEPP-C), the Passion to Profession Programme (P2PP), and the Agri-Preneurship Training Programme (ATP).
According to him, “In all, the programmes will train about 12,000 Nigerians between three and six months in the following trade areas: Web design and programming, Advance Computer networking, Mobile app development, Iron bending, Masonry, Crop production, Aquaculture, Poultry, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration, Plumbing, GSM repairs and Ladies’ wig cap making.
“Apart from the NISDP that will be implemented in all states of the Federation including the FCT, the rest of the skills intervention programmes will be shared amongst the states.
“What this means is that whereas some of the states will benefit from one of the skills intervention programmes, others will benefit from two or even three of the programmes”, he explained.
The Director General further explained that, “The decision as to which state benefits from a particular programme was based on the likelihood of participants to eke out sustainable livelihoods because of the needs of the states for such particular skills.
“It is noteworthy that in appreciation of our efforts to equip Nigerians with requisite skills, and our contributions to the development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector in Nigeria, the ITF was named as a member of the Steering Committee of the Federal Government’s Survival Fund that was constituted by the Federal Government to drive the implementation of the various support schemes for MSMEs in the country as part of the National response to the COVID-19 pandemic and as part of Government’s Social Investment Programmes under the Economic Sustainability Plan.
He added that, in a similar vein, “the ITF was among the few Agencies requested by the Federal Government to forward submissions on lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“If our proposal, which is currently receiving the attention of the authorities is assented to, the ITF will train over 7million Nigerians in the Agriculture, Construction and Facility Maintenance, Information and Communication Technology, Manufacturing and Services sectors between 2021 and 2031”, he explained.
“We believe that until most Nigerians are equipped with competitive technical skills, we will, as a Nation, continue to fight a losing battle against the blights of poverty and unemployment and their attendant consequences”, he stressed.
“Our belief is inspired by success stories from countries like Japan, Germany, Vietnam, Singapore and Brazil that transformed into industrial power-houses using technical skills acquisition. We can do the same”.
On the Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES), the Director General said, “As our brain child and in view of its integral role in the training of Students of Engineering, Technology and other Allied disciplines in our tertiary Institutions, the ITF accords priority attention to management of the Scheme.
According to him, “In 2020, the Fund reviewed the Scheme’s processes for seamless and more effective management in light of prevailing challenges and to fully actualise its objectives.
“For instance, to ease interactions between and with relevant stakeholders, thereby reduce person to person contact, a website dedicated to SIWES was developed, and launched during the 14th SIWES National Biennial Conference of October 2020 in Abuja.
“Similarly, the Fund ensured the payment of students and supervisory allowances. In all, N632, 935, 000 was paid as Student allowance while N77, 718, 750 was paid as supervisory allowance between January 2020 and June 2020”, he explained.
“I want to assure of our commitment to prompt payment of students and supervisors’ allowances as soon as money is received by the Fund from the Federal Government”, Ari assured.
Speaking on reimbursement of employers, Ari said, “In line with our Act, the Fund re-imburses contributing employers up to fifty percent of the statutory annual training contributions remitted by them if the Fund’s Governing Council is satisfied that training programmes of the employer were in accordance with the Fund’s Reimbursement Scheme.
“Since assumption to office of the incumbent Management of the ITF, we have zealously worked towards fulfilling this aspect of our mandate.
“In line with this, a total of Three Billion, Nine Hundred and Forty One Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty Eight Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Five Naira, Fifty Seven Kobo was paid to 325 companies as reimbursement for year 2019.
“In addition, the Fund organised several reimbursement workshops to apprise employers of labour on the processes involved in the Re-imbursement Scheme”, he maintained.