The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and other labour sector stakeholders declared on Tuesday that Nigeria should make the most of its rapidly growing population by employing a skilled workforce.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has specifically tasked ITF with leveraging a 3 million euro grant in the pipeline to produce more skilled workers in Nigeria.
The desire of the ITF and other critical stakeholders in the labour sector to have a productivity-driven skilled workforce came to the fore during a public hearing session on a bill seeking to amend the Industrial Training Fund Act, organised by the Senate Committee on Industries.
The bill, sponsored by ITF and pushed through by Senator Saidu Ahmed Alkali, seeks to broaden the Training Agency’s operations in terms of management skill training for technical and entrepreneurial development in the public and private sectors of the economy.
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In his presentation at the public hearing, ITF Director General Dr Joseph Ari stated, “Amendments sought through this bill will serve to expand the scope of our operations and enhance our activities.”
“Additionally, the amendments are especially important now that unemployment in Nigeria has been estimated by the National Bureau of Statistics that Unemployment and Underemployment Report of Q4 2020, to be over 23 million Nigerians, despite several surveys indicating the existence of vacancies in several sectors of the national economy that could not be filled due to a lack of requisite skills, which underpins the need for all hands to be on deck to ensure that as many people as possible are employed.”
“The amendments are also relevant in light of the recently released 2022 World Population Prospects by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which projected that Nigeria’s population would reach 216 million by November 2022, and 375 million by 2050.”
“As a result, if necessary measures are not put in place to equip this youth bulge with employability and entrepreneurship skills, the country’s socioeconomic problems may worsen.”
“An amendment to the Act will enable the Fund to expand its infrastructure to accommodate as many Nigerians as possible who are willing to acquire skills for the country’s national growth and development.”
Supporting the proposed legislation, the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Mansur Ahmed, represented by Abuja Liaison Officer, Adeyemi Folorunsho, stated that the ITF should be further empowered through the passage of the proposed bill.
According to him, at a recent conference on skills and vocational trainings in African countries, the ITF was proposed to be the flagship of such trainings, which will be facilitated by 3 million Euro grants.
Other stakeholders, including the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), and others, backed the amendment bill proposal in separate presentations.
In his closing remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adetokunbo Abiru (APC Lagos East), stated that the amendments sought in the ITF Act were critical to moving Nigeria in line with global trends in terms of globally competitive skill trainings.