By Marie-Therese Nanlong
The Director-General/Chief Executive of the Industrial Training Fund, ITF, Sir Joseph Ari has advocated the entrenchment of skills empowerment programmes in the school’s curriculum from the primary to the tertiary levels saying such would change the perception of Nigerians about skills acquisition and enable them embrace such as a viable way of building the nation’s economy.
He noted the country can take a cue from the Dutch system which lays emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics and build homegrown system which would equip the future leaders with adequate skills to grow the economy.
Ari who spoke in Jos at an event organized by management and staff of the ITF to celebrate his reappointment for a second term in office assured he would not deviate from the major priority of the Fund which is to empower as many Nigerians as possible with requisite skills that would ensure the building of a viable economy.
He stressed that during his first tenure, 500,000 Nigerians were trained with skills which enabled them to earn sustainable livelihoods and added that despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused many Nigerians to lose their jobs, the ITF is positioned to strengthen the micro, small and medium enterprises sector through need-based training and ensure national growth and development.
The DG cautioned Nigerians against the notion that skills acquisition is dirty and encouraged them to embrace such especially now that white collar jobs are either non-existence or difficult to come by as he said, “The major priority of the ITF is to empower as many Nigerians as possible with requisite skills, this is what can take this country away from where it is now, this is what other developed nations have done to move their economies to the present status.
“Once we are able to empower and equip Nigerians, they will not be depending on white collar jobs which are either non-existence or difficult to come by. We have a robust relationship with the Federal Ministry of Education, the ease of doing business policy of the federal government has brought so many agencies of the federal government together. One of the key relationships we have is that all of us are members of the economic sustainability plan and ITF is on the steering committee of the survival funds and the guarantee uptake scheme.
“At the ministerial level, the Ministry of Education is also a member but if you go by educating our young ones, this is one thing that the ITF has continued to say that the issues of skills empowerment or equipping Nigerians with skills should start right from our primary level to our secondary, we should begin with some of the skills programmes so that we can catch them young and build them young so that by the time they are grown, they will be able to embrace skills.
“That also means that we have to change the educational policy to ensure that we bring about things that encourage technical, vocational education and training in the educational curriculum and that is very key. If you go to Holland, the Dutch system emphasis on STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics and we are also saying that we can get some of them that are viable for us for our homegrown system and have an inbuilt system right from the kindergarten because that is the only way you can even change the perception of Nigerians who hitherto had regarded skills programmes as dirty, dangerous and things to be dreaded. These can change if we begin that kind of curriculum right from the foundation.”
Earlier, the ITF’s Director of Information and Communication Technology/Development, Dickson Onuoha commended the DG for his efforts at repositioning the system as well as the attention given to staff welfare and promised staff cooperation to ensure he succeeds in his assignment.