Sir Joe Ari is the Director General of Industrial Training Fund (ITF). In this interview with ONOJA AUDU, says his vision for ITF is to make it a household name among other issues. Excerpt:
What is your vision for the ITF under your leadership as its Director-General?
My vision for Industrial Training Fund is for the Fund to become a house hold name that will be mentioned in all discussions regarding skill acquisition in the country and beyond.
We have invested in building a more positive and robust profile for ITF. We have equally stepped up efforts towards full automation of our processes with the launching of the Enterprise Resource planning, a digital resource designed to ease how our day-to day activities are carried out.
Our vision at ITF is to become the foremost training organisation in Nigeria and one of the best in the world .This vision can be achieved if members of the workforce of ITF have a strong bearing on our corporate performance. It is achievable if every one of us resolves to put in our best in lifting the organization to a greater height.
How far has the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) gone in pursuing its mandate in promoting and encouraging skill acquisitions across sectors since its establishment in 1971 to date?
Despite this challenging and tasking mandate, ITF has pursued vigorously the realisation of its mandate by training over 20 million Nigerians that are today manning key sectors of the National economy.
Let me tell you that from our skills intervention programs which are accessible to all Nigerians particularly the Youth to our Tailor-made skills acquisition and other direct training that are being implemented by our 43 Industrial skills Training centres and Area offices nationwide, we have succeeded in consistently driving Nigeria to be among the skills hub of the world.
In line with the policy direction of President Mohammadu Buhari, ITF re-articulated and refocused its activities under the current management with great emphasis on skills acquisition in order to create jobs to stem rampant unemployment and bread a new generation of entrepreneurs in order to transform the economic landscape of the country.
What is ITF Reviewed Vision, Strategies for mandate Actualisation set to achieve?
The current management in 2016, unveiled one of its most ambitious plans since its establishment which it tagged the ITF Reviewed Vision Strategies For mandate Actualisation; a six-year plan divided into quick wins, short, medium and long term goals.
The implementation of the plan commenced in 2016 and will terminate in 2022.
The overriding objectives of the plan was to accelerate the impartation of technical vocational skills to Nigerians, aggressively address service challenges, tackle infrastructural deficits, expand revenue generation and a gamut of other things hamstringing the actualisation of the ITF’S Mandate.
More than two years into the implementation of this plan, ITF has exceeded expectation by training over 450,000 Nigerians who are today earning sustainable livelihood s as paid employees or as Entrepreneurs that have employed many Nigerians.
Towards ensuring that the plan succeeds, Industrial Training Fund expanded existing skills acquisition programs and introduced new initiatives.
The programs include the National Industrial Skills Development programme, the Women skills empowerment program, Passion to Profession Program or Training on wheels, the Construction skills empowerment program, the Training and empowerment program for physically challenged, Agri-Preneurship among several others.
These programs equipped Nigerians across the country with skills in trades and vocations such as welding and fabrication, Tailoring and Fashion designing and plumbing and pipefitting.
Others are events management cosmetology, poultry, farming, bead making, baking and pastry, soap /disinfectant/detergent making, hair making, food processing, tailoring and fashion design among several others.
What package do you have for trainees at the end of their skills training?
It is worthy of note that unlike in the past where ITF depended on state governments and other collaborating bodies to empower trainees with start-up kits, all the beneficiaries of the ITF skills acquisition programs were provided with start-up kits by the Industrial Training Fund.
The decision to provide the start-up packs was based on results of our monitoring and evaluation, tracer studies of earlier phases , which revealed that in all cases where the trainees were provided with the kits , over 90 percent earned reasonable incomes as entrepreneurs
How has ITF been able to address the challenges of unemployment in country through skill acquisition training program?
Despite the efforts of ITF and the federal government, the reports from the National Bureau of statistics (NBS) recently revealed that just as the number of the economically active or working age 15 to 64 years grew from 110.3 million to 111,1, the number of unemployed equally has appreciated from 11.2 million to 13.55 and 15.99 in the second and third quarter of last year despite the fact that a skill gap Assessment in six priority sectors of the Nigerian economy was conducted by the ITF in conjunction with UNIDO.
The report we presented to stakeholders in Abuja last year showed that even though vacancies existed in all sectors surveyed, they were being filled by foreign expatriates other than Nigerians because of lack of requisite skills.
In order to stem the spiraling rate of unemployment , President Buhari ‘s job creation efforts to address some specific gaps survey, ITF came up with several skills programs and trained about 300,000 Nigerians that were all empowered with start- up packs.
Our commitment to the skills acquisition for job creation did not however distance us from the performance of our key functions like the Research and Curriculum Development, the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES), reimbursement s and development of key infrastructure of the Fund.
What has ITF done in the area of Research and Curriculum Development to boost the gains of your Agency?
Research and Curriculum Development are vital functions in the Fund.
We conducted two skills gap surveys in metal and solid minerals Industry and skill gap assessment on Agro allied industry which were formally presented to the stakeholders while in Programs development, the Fund developed new programs and also reviewed several others. These programmes were developed on identified training needs of our clients.
What is the current success story in your organization handling of Students Industrial work Experience scheme (SIWES)?
The SIWES which had been plagued before now by delayed payment of students and supervisory allowances has witnessed new lease of life with some resolution as the back log unpaid allowances dating back to 2012 have been cleared under my watch. In all a total of N1,344,527,500.00 have been paid to students of accredited disciplines and supervisors .
Similarly, in line with our enabling Act, the Fund has paid over N7 billion to 510 employers of Labor as re-imbursement between January 2018 and December of last year .
This perhaps was the biggest payout to contributors of employers of Labor as reimbursement in a calendar year since the establishment of ITF. Our commitment is to continue to reimburse our contributors provided they meet the criteria for the payment.
The post My Vision Is For ITF To Become Household Name – ITF DG appeared first on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.