By Tony Obiechina, ABUJA
Worried about the growing of rate of unemployment in the country, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), on Thursday unveiled fresh strategies to tackle the challenge. The Director-General of ITF, Mr Joseph Ari who described the situation as worrisome, said the Fund had come to the realisation that the trend was due to lack of requisite skills by Nigerians.
The National Bureau of Statistics had in the last quarter of 2018 stated that the number of Nigerians without jobs stood at 20.9 million.
While speaking on the activities of the agency in Abuja, Mr Ari said a survey carried out by the ITF revealed that despite the spiraling unemployment rate, there still existed trades that were difficult to fill in the country's labour market.
To address this trend, he said the agency had come up with programs under its reviewed mandate. He gave some of them as National Industrial Skills Development Programme; Women Skills Empowerment Programme; Skills Training and Empowerment Programme for the physically challenged. Other areas of capacity building to address unemployment are aqua-culture/fish farming, manure production, poultry farming and training program development on international marketing. Ari said within the next six months, the agency would be training about 18,000 Nigerians in these trade areas. He said, "Our commitment to skills acquisition is premised on the fact that it remains the most viable and sustainable solution to rising unemployment and poverty that have continued to defy the best efforts of governmental and non-governmental approaches. "There are countless reasons for us to worry as governments and as institutions vested with the arduous task of equipping Nigerians with the life skills for employability and entrepreneurship. "There is no doubt that unemployment has wrought a terrible damage on all facets of our national life. No reasonable analysis will divorce unemployment from the needless incidences of violence that have claimed thousands of lives across the Nation. "It will equally be difficult to separate rising criminality and harmful social vices that are being perpetrated by Nigerians because of unemployment and the attendant poverty." He lamented that the country's population which should ordinarily be a resource has become an albatross because the government cannot provide a greater proportion of its population with a source of livelihood. Ari said while President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had made tremendous efforts to create jobs, there is need for support from the private sector. He called on all Nigerians to support government’s efforts to create jobs and reduce poverty through skills acquisition rather than view it as the responsibility of the ITF and other agencies of the Federal Government alone. "The co-operation and collaboration of all state governments, the organised private sector, politicians and other stakeholders will be critical for a multiplier effect. "It is vital to emphasise that the Federal Government and its agencies cannot provide jobs for all Nigerians. "Indeed, no country whether developed or developing has ever achieved that. Instead, the resort has been to Technical Vocational Education and Training, which is today described as the currency of the 21st century," he added.