One of the best ways to address socio-economic challenges among the youths in the country is through job creation. In this piece, PETER AHEMBA, our Nasarawa State Correspondent based in Lafia writes that involvement can boost such efforts.

IT IS NO longer news that the Industrial Training Fund, ITF, a manpower development agency was established by the federal government decree No 47 of October, 1971 which has since become an Act of Parliament. It is to provide, promote and encourage skills acquisition in industry and commerce with a view to generating a pool of indigenously trained manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the private and public sectors of the economy. Findings by Nigerian Pilot revealed that the fund which operates under the Federal Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment has reached 46 years of continuous growth in human capital development and skills impartation to the nation. Just recently, perhaps, in keeping to its vision and mission, the ITF empowered a total of 500 youths with entrepreneurship skills under its National Industrial Skills Development Programme, NISDP, in Nasarawa State. The programme according to findings was implemented simultaneously in 8 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with Borno State having the lion share of 1,100 to carter for the large number of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in that state. The beneficiaries
were trained on various vocational skills for a minimum of three months in different trade areas in addition to a startup capital as well as tools to commence their businesses. At the passing out ceremony of the first batch of trainees for the 2016 NISDP in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital recently, Director-General of the ITF, Joseph Ari, explained that the capacity building training was a component of the National Enterprises Development Programme (NEDEP) conceived by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in collaboration with ITF, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, SMEDAN and Bank of Industry with the aimed of actualising the diversification agenda of the federal government. The DG who was represented at the ceremony by the Area Manager in charge of ITF Lafia Area office further explained that the programme seeks to precipitate rapid industrialisation and stimulate inclusive economic growth by empowering the youth to be gainfully employed through the provision of training in technical vocational skills in various trade areas, business development service and business finance. He posited that for the country to adequately overcome the socio-economic problems and some social vices bedeviling it such as kidnappings, high profile assassination, armed robbery, religious intolerance and terrorism, the issue of wealth creation and poverty reduction must be properly addressed. “Technical and vocational skills acquisition is indeed a veritable strategy for deploying sustainable solutions to address and redress these vices as it will facilitate the generation of a self reliant and responsible citizenry”, he said. The beneficiaries were trained on tilling and interlocking, POP, pestering/banking, shoe and soap making. He noted that the ITF requires the support of government and all stakeholders to be able to expand skills acquisition opportunity in Nigeria. In a remark at the event, the Secretary to the Nasarawa State Government, Ambassador Suleiman Azores, who observed that the establishment of ITF by the federal gvernment has boosted the skills acquisition and manpower development in the country, urged the beneficiaries to utilise the training by contributing to the socio-economic development of the society. Azores said that the state government had already joined the queue by engaging hundreds of youths in vocational skills, assuring that government will continue to do her best in that regard. “As a government, we are very much appreciative of what ITF is doing to our people, especially the training opportunity accorded our youths. We shall continue to partner relevant organisations and agencies like the ITF to improve the living condition of our people”. Also speaking at the ceremony, the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Alhaji Galadima who enjoined
the youths, especially the beneficiaries of programme to make maximum use of the skills acquired, noted that by so doing, the youth would be better placed to assist themselves, family members and the society in general. “As future leaders, you must be ready to prepare for the task ahead. Your ability to be a good leader tomorrow depends largely on how well you utilize the opportunities such as the one given from ITF to be better persons in your future endeavors”, he said. As the ITF intensifies efforts in meeting with its target and purpose of establishment, Nigerian Pilot observed that the recent establishment of its Lafia Area Office has continued to attract commendations from stakeholders in both the private and public sectors of the economy. One of such commendations was from a retired federal Permanent Secretary and chairman, Sandaji Group of Companies, Alhaji Abubakar Sandaji who described the recent establishment of ITF office in Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa State as the best thing that has happened to the state considering the benefits derivable from the fund by both the private and public sectors especially in the area of manpower development. In the same vein, the rector of the Nasarawa state polytechnic, Lafia, Associate Professor Silas Gyar, at a recent stakeholders interactive forum organised by the Lafia Area Office of the fund in Lafia pointed out that his institution was pleased with the establishment of ITF office in Lafia as the gesture had automatically addressed the challenge of having to travel to ITF office in Jos, the Plateau State capital on issues of Students Idustrial Work Experience Scheme, SIWES. The rector, represented at the interactive forum by his deputy, Mr. Augustine Aligabu said “As a technology institution, we stand to benefit most from your (ITF) presence in Nasarawa State today. We would no longer have cause to travel to Jos when we have issues of SIWES and other things like it use to be as such matters would henceforth be addressed right here in Lafia. We are indeed grateful with your coming in the state”, Gyar said. Stakeholders are therefore of the view that as a new office in town, it behooves on the federal government, especially Nasarawa, the host state, to give ITF the necessary support to be able to serve the people well.