The federal government has commenced the process of galvanising and deepening apprenticeship in Nigeria to curb rising levels of unemployment and poverty.
Director-general, Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari, made this disclosure in his opening address at the 2nd National Skills Summit in Abuja organised by the Fund with the theme: “Institutionalising Apprenticeship and Traineeship for National Development.”
According to Ari, the programme will exhaustively dwell on identifying and assessing existing skills development and labour market contexts in the country, in addition to coming up with policy guidelines for skills development, applying best practices for aligning skills development to market needs, spotlighting and bringing to public domain topical issues that have skills development implications and/or require skills interventions among others.
Drawing data from the National Bureau of Statistics on Labour Force Statistics, Unemployment and Underemployment Report of Q4 2020, Ari noted that the number of unemployed persons in the economically active or working age (i.e15 to 65) was 122,049,400. Of this number, 69, 675,468 were willing to work, but only 46,488,079 were in paid employment, adding that what could be inferred from the survey was that over 23 million Nigerians that were perhaps qualified and willing to work were without jobs.
“With the high unemployment rate in the country, it will not be farfetched 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,” he stated.
The DG said in the agency’s fifty years of existence, it has trained over 22 million Nigerians which contributions to the growth of the various sectors of the national economy cannot be easily quantified.
Ari hinted that ITF is also currently working on bringing in some of its skills intervention programmes including; the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP); Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP); Passion to Profession Programme (P2PP); Skills Training and Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEPP-C); Construction Skills Empowerment Programme (CONSEP) and; Agriprenuership Skills Empowerment Programme (AGSEP) amongst others into the apprenticeship scheme.
According to him, between 2010 and 2019 alone, the ITF liaised with a total of 1,353 companies for the promotion of in-company apprenticeship activities.
It also visited and appraised 1,146 companies to determine their potential to conduct apprentice training in identified trade areas, harmonised 444 existing In-company apprenticeship schemes of companies in line with the ITF National Apprenticeship scheme, installed the scheme in 286 companies as well as monitored 831 companies, leading to the training of 36,397 most of whom are gainfully employed. But he said more still needs to be done to tackle unemployment in the country and the summit will address that.
In her speech at the event, minister of state for industry, trade and investment, Amb Maryam Katagum, while commending ITF, said the summit should be viewed as a necessary tonic to contribute to the implementation of the National Development Plan 2022-2025.
She, therefore, urged the participants to share ideas and articulate strategies and actionable steps to ensure the “development of employable skills to enhance job creation in order to conquer mediocrity and tackle the challenges of poverty and unemployment that is bedeviling our dear nation.”