Director General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Joseph Ari, has said 23 million Nigerians who qualify and are willing to work are currently without jobs.

Ari quoted figures by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Labour Force on Unemployment and Underemployment Report of Q4 of 2020.

The figures showed that the number of unemployed persons in the economically active or working ages of 15 to 65 was 122,049,400.

Of this number, 69,675,468 people were willing to work, but only 46,488,079 were in paid employment.

The director general noted that the unemployment rate among the youth encompassed people between the ages of 15 and 35 years, which was up by eight per cent, from 34.9 per cent to 42.5 per cent.

This was the highest among other age groupings within the period under review.

Ari spoke at the ITF second National Skills Summit in Abuja, with the theme: Identify and Assess Existing Skills Development and Labour Market Contexts in Nigeria.

The ITF boss said attention was being focused on Institutionalising Apprenticeship and Traineeship for National Development.

According to him, despite the high unemployment rate, especially among the youths, a Skills Gap Assessment of Six Priority Sectors of the National Economy conducted by the ITF, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO), has revealed that rather than the absence of jobs, vacancies still exist in several sectors of the national economy that either could not be filled by Nigerians because of the lack of requisite skills or were being filled by foreigners.

“The question that arises from this paradox is: how can we plug these gaps using apprenticeship? The answer to this question can be found in other countries, such as Germany, China, Australia, the United State of America (U.S.A), and others that at various times faced similar challenges such as we are contending. What they did was to pour greater investments in skills acquisition and apprenticeship training.

“This summit is not an admission of a lack of effort but part of the process of galvanising and deepening apprenticeship in Nigeria for national development and a search for practical solutions to some of the impediments we had encountered, some of which include but are not restricted to poor public conception of the apprenticeship system and skills acquisition, lack of necessary policy framework, lack pedagogical skills by some master craftsmen and poor funding of the scheme.

Ari posed the questions of how ITF would overcome the problem of funding, what policies the organization could put in place to entrench the apprenticeship scheme in Nigeria’s educational system using the German DVT model.

The ITF boss also asked: “In what ways can we encourage youths to embrace apprenticeship for employability and entrepreneurship?

“How do we improve and enhance our traditional apprenticeships? How do we secure the buy-in of employers of labour?”

The summit, he said, would provide the platform to finally articulate strategies for a robust apprenticeship scheme in the country.

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