October 16, 2021

ITF trains 500,000 Nigerians in business

Joseph Ari, DG ITF

Over 500,000 Nigerians have benefitted from various “employability and entrepreneurship” training programmes of the Industrial Training Fund, Officials say.

In the last four years, ITF has implemented skills intervention programmes toward “accelerating the impartation of technical and vocational skills to Nigerians to create jobs and reduce unemployment in line with the Federal Government policy direction,” ITF Director General, Mr. Joseph Ari said, Monday.

“Within the last few years, over 500,000 Nigerians have benefitted from these programmes with various skills for employability and entrepreneurship for economic growth.

“These programmes include the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP), Construction Skills Empowerment Programme (CONSEP), Agripreneurship Skills Empowerment Programme (AGSEP) and the Skills Training Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEPP–C) amongst many others.

“It is noteworthy that some of our Skills Intervention Programmes equipped thousands of Nigerians with skills in Computer hardware repair and maintenance, Computer networking, Web and mobile apps development, Digital marketing and Advanced desktop publishing to mention a few,” said Ari, at the 2021 annual Plateau Social Media Awards in Jos.

Similarly, the ITF according to Mr. Ari, has introduced a specialised ICT programme – Info-tech Skills Empowerment Programme(ISEP) to empower and certify Nigerians with emerging ICT skills that are in high demand locally and internationally, thereby “expanding their employment horizon”.

“Since its inception, the programme has empowered and certified Nigerians with ICT skills in Computer repairs and maintenance(CompTIA A+), Computer networking (CompTIA N+), Advanced Computer networking(CCNA) Web and mobile apps development and Digital satellite equipment installation and maintenance,” said the ITF boss.

His full speech:

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR–GENERAL/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE INDUSTRIAL TRAINING FUND (ITF), SIR. JOSEPH N. ARI, KSM, KSS, AT THE PLATEAU SOCIAL MEDIA AWARDS 3.0 ON MONDAY, 5TH APRIL, 2021 AT ELIM TOP SUITES, RAYFIED, JOS

PROTOCOL

I am very delighted and honoured not only to have been invited to this event but also deliver the keynote address. I am particularly excited as the theme: Exploring the Innovative and Creative Industry Opportunities on the New Media, aligns with the efforts of the Federal Government and relevant Agencies to create jobs and wealth by empowering Nigerian Youth with employable technical and vocational skills thereby generating a new breed of entrepreneurs in the face of the dwindling opportunities for white-collar jobs.

Before I proceed, permit me to especially acknowledge the presence of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, whose presence here is proof of his commitment and readiness to take Plateau State to the Next Level. You are welcome, Sir.

Let me at this point commend the organisers of the Plateau Social Media Awards (PSMA) 3.0, for coming up with the theme, which to my mind, is contemporary and quite relevant, especially coming on the heels of the release of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics(NBS) Unemployment Report for Q4 2020 and, therefore, would provide us with an opportunity to share ideas on how to exploit the vast opportunities offered by the New Media and ICT sector to create jobs for the teeming number of unemployed Nigerians, which according to the report hovers above 33 per cent.  

Your Excellency, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, The organizers of this event have asked me to speak on the topic: The ITF and Youth Empowerment in ICT. In otherwords, I am expected to share with you how the ITF has empowered the Nigerian youths with ICT skills for employability and entrepreneurship in the ICT sector. 

But before I delve into the subject proper, permit me to attempt an explanation of some of the concepts.

Innovation Defined

Forbes, a global media company, describes innovation as challenging conventional notions of how things have been done before, and bringing of ideas from one industry to another, or from one geographic region to another.

Similarly, the online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia defines Innovation as a new idea, creative thoughts, and new imaginations in form of a device or method. Innovation is also often viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs or existing market needs. 

Both definitions perceive innovation as something new and intended to improve on existing ideas and methods. Innovations take place through the provision of better products, processes, services, technologies or business models that are made available to markets, governments and society. An innovation is something original and more effective. 

Innovation does not only mean the introduction of new methods, it is the application of creativity in the creative industries with the means of profitability and development. Innovation is ‘central to the creative industry and critical to productivity growth’. Although innovation is related to invention, they are not similar, as innovation is more likely to involve the practical implementation of an invention to make a meaningful impact in the market and society.

The Nigerian Creative Industry comprises several players across diverse sectors like film, theatre, music, dance, literature, fashion, television, radio, arts, sports, information technology, media, advertising and gaming. The common tie that binds the entire industry is Intellectual Property (IP), as it is the primary product of all activities across the different sectors. The standard industry model for creating commercial value used to be, good content, effective exhibition platforms/distribution channels and adequate IP Protection. This is no more the case, as technology, with its fluid and constantly evolving ecosystems has revolutionized everything about the industry, especially the way the public engages it.

The Industry is confronted by the challenges created by new technology in the creative industry and the opportunities that these technologies have introduced for operators to grow the industry and create something truly remarkable in Nigeria. I am confident that our speakers will elaborate more on these issues in their presentations.

The ITF and Youth Empowerment in ICT

The ITF, which is the leading Federal Government Agency with the mandate to provide, promote and encourage the acquisition of skills in industry and commerce in Nigeria, has been at the forefront of skills acquisition for job creation and poverty reduction, especially since the assumption of office of the incumbent management in 2016.

Between 2016 to date, the ITF has developed and implemented several skills intervention programmes aimed at accelerating and fast-tracking the impartation of technical and vocational skills to Nigerians to create jobs and reduce unemployment in line with the Federal Government policy direction. 

Within the last few years, over 500,000 Nigerians have benefitted from these programmes with various skills for employability and entrepreneurship for economic growth. These programmes include the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP), Construction Skills Empowerment Programme (CONSEP), Agripreneurship Skills Empowerment Programme (AGSEP) and the Skills Training Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEPP–C) amongst many others. It is noteworthy that some of our Skills Intervention Programmes equipped thousands of Nigerians with skills in Computer hardware repair and maintenance, Computer networking, Web and mobile apps development, Digital marketing and Advanced desktop publishing to mention a few. 

SPECIAL ICT INTERVENTION PROGRAMMES

In recognition of the growing importance of ICT to job creation as could be observed in great Nations of the world like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, India and China, the ITF in 2018, introduced a specialised ICT programme called the Info-tech Skills Empowerment Programme(ISEP). The objective of the programme is to empower and certify Nigerians with emerging ICT skills that are in high demand locally and internationally thereby expand their employment horizon. Since its inception, the programme has empowered and certified Nigerians with ICT skills in Computer repairs and maintenance(CompTIA A+), Computer networking (CompTIA N+), Advanced Computer networking(CCNA) Web and mobile apps development and Digital satellite equipment installation and maintenance.

It must be stressed that because of the skills imparted to beneficiaries of our programmes, many youth are today, running their businesses, earning sustainable livelihoods and even employing others, thereby significantly contributing to the growth of the National economy.

Apart from our various Skills Intervention Programmes which cover ICT appreciably, our Industrial/Model Skills Centres in Abuja, Lagos, Lokoja, Kano and Jos are well equipped and offer ICT Trade Areas. In addition, all vocational wings in our Area Offices are equipped for ICT Programmes. 

For instance, the Fund’s Model Skills Training Centre (MSTC) in Abuja awards the National Innovation Diploma (NID) to graduates in:

Computer Hardware Engineering

Computer Software Engineering

Computer Networking

The Centre also awards the National Vocational Certificate (NVC) to graduates in Autotronics and Process Automation.

Relevance to Nigeria

The relevance of these programmes and certificates to Nigeria cannot be overemphasised as it is aimed at:

generating technologically skilled manpower for industries, and the public and private sectors of the economy.

creating the platform for foreign investors to invest in our local industries thereby contributing to the Federal Government commitment to economic growth and job creation for Nigerians. 

improving our products and services which will, in turn, improve our foreign exchange.

Job Opportunities

To the graduands of our intervention and regular programmes:

they are employed by companies in the high-technology manufacturing and servicing Industries, like equipment maintenance Technicians and Technologists.

they can work in wholesale/retail outlets, government/ private/public organizations.

they can also work in the creative industry and/or run their outlets.

In conclusion, Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen, it is obvious to all Nigerians that we have a time bomb on our hands if we do not tackle head-on the problem of unemployment, in view of its attendant consequences. A critical analysis of the numerous challenges we are contending with today- be it boko haram, banditry, armed robbery and other social vices- will not reveal farther than unemployment and poverty as the root causes. Therefore, if we tackle unemployment, we will solve most of these problems. However, our efforts as individual institutions are clearly not enough. It is with this in mind that I am calling on all Nigerians (individuals and Corporate entities) to partner with the Industrial Training Fund for the empowerment of our youths with relevant skills for employability and entrepreneurship.

Thank you for listening and God bless.