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ITF-UNIDO report on skill gaps excites minister

Minister of State for Industry, Trade & Investment, Aisha Abubakar has said, that the report by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisationa (UNIDO) on skill gap assessment is intended to bridge the gap between job availability and skills requirement.

Abubakar who stated this at the official presentation of the report in Abuja on Thursday, also revealed that the nation has a pool of skilled manpower that can suffice every sector thereby eradicate over-dependence on expatriates for every simple job.

According to him, the report and its subsequent adoption will lead to increase in foreign direct Investment (FDI) and reduce job and skills mismatch and decrease the issue expatriates exceeding their one percent quota.

“You are all aware that Nigeria is richly endowed with abundant human resources but harnessing these endowment adequately for sustainable economic growth and development has been a challenge which has resulted into many consequences including high level of unemployment,” Abubakar said.

 She called on Organized Private Sector (OPS) to collaborate with to invest heavily in vocational and technical skill acquisition programmes in order to resolve the issue of skills level among Nigeria.

While commending the ITF and UNIDO for the report, she assured the public that government will passionately look into the findings of the study with a view to benchmarking it.

The report of ITF-UNIDO Skills Gap Assessment in the Nigerian Economy, which was officially presented at the Ladi Kwali Conference Hall, Abuja Sheraton Hotel & Towers, revealed that despite soaring unemployment even amongst graduates of tertiary institutions, vacancies still exist in professional trade areas that still cannot be filled by Nigerians.

Director-General of the ITF, Sir Joseph Ari who presented the report, explained that lack of requisite skills was responsible for the inability of Nigerians to fill the vacancies that exist in such areas as plant operators, artisans and technicians.

He said the report also cited the absence of Labour Market Information (LMI) in any useful form, the lack of tracking of the performance of polytechnics, colleges of education and university graduates by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) and the National Universities omission (NUC), as reasons for the skills gaps.

Others are the absence of a framework for testing and validating of apprenticeship scheme in Nigeria, irregular large scale surveys of employers and the lack of a comprehensive macro-economic model that would provide estimates for federal and state governments and relevant institutions.

He however noted with pleasure that even before the official presentation of the ITF-UNIDO report, the federal government and relevant agencies and parastatals had commenced proactive actions targeted at resolving some of the identified problems.

“For instance, the federal government has introduced a number of policies to drive the nation’s economy (which) include the Ease of Doing Business policy, the Executive Orders and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, among others,” adding that on its part, “the ITF has set up a job portal and is poised to establish youth lounges in all its 42 Area Offices to address the dire need for LMI.”

According to Sir Ari, by virtue of its position as the leading skills acquisition organization in Nigeria, the ITF realized the need to generate a baseline data in six identified sectors that would guide government investment in stills development.  The six sectors are Agric-business and agro-allied, Metal & Solid minerals, Oil and gas related industry, Construction, Light manufacturing and Services.

He said the National Skills Gap Study project was meant to provide information on industrial stills demand, supply and gaps in Nigeria and, formulate in consultation with relevant stakeholders, policy recommendations and action plans to alleviate the skills gaps, as well as serve as basis for government investment in skills development in Nigeria.

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