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Unemployment: ITF Wants Change Of Skills Acquisition Perception

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The horrendous unemployment crisis in Nigeria could only be solved with the change of the current perception of skills acquisition as a preserve for the never-do- wells, the poor and the wretched in the society.
If Nigerians successfully change their perception of about technical skills, the problem of unemployment and other development issues would have been half-tackled.
The Director-General of Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Mr. Joseph Ari gave this advise at a briefing in Abuja on the activities of ITF.
Despite government’s best efforts, unemployment was still on the rise.
Painting the gloomy picture of job situation in Nigeria, he said, that projections suggested that the country’s population was expected to hit the 500 million mark by 2050, making it the third most populous country on earth.
“Much as accelerated population growth could be an advantage, it becomes a huge disadvantage and a severe dead weight where this population is neither employed nor equipped with the requisite skills for sustenance.
“And if the current unemployment rate is responsible for the high incidences of violence, criminality and other social vices that are rampant today, it would be safe to conclude that such incidences will conceivably escalate exponentially, if deliberate actions to equip Nigerians with competitive skills for job creation and growth are not taken.”
He explained that some disturbing facts have emerged in a survey, the report of which was presented to stakeholders in Abuja in April this year.
The report, he said, indicated that despite spiraling unemployment, 925 trades were either difficult or hard to fill in the country’s labour market.
“The breakdown showed that 19.7 per cent vacancies were in the housing sector, 13.9 per cent in petro-chemical sector, 14.7 per cent in other goods, 11.4 per cent in the auto industry.
“Others are 10.3 per cent in textiles, 10.1 per cent in steel, 8.9 per cent in the services sector and 3.3 per cent in the leather industry.
“The report also noted that 15.7 per cent of all hard to fill vacancies were due to lack of technical skills, 11.8 per cent due to lack of basic IT skills, 9.2 per cent due to lack of advanced IT skills and between 9.2 per cent and 7.5 per cent of the vacancies were due to the lack of requisite soft skills.”
He said that the report which further corroborated in-house skills gaps surveys of ITF, showed that despite rising unemployment, numerous vacancies still existed in several sectors of the national economy.
These vacancies could not be filled by Nigerians because of the absence of the requisite skills or were being filled by foreigners.
In order to address the problem and stem the spiraling unemployment, President Muhammadu Buhari’s job creation efforts, management came up with a list of implementable programmes for year 2018.
The programmes are aimed at skill acquisition in all the sectors already identified as well as in the building and electrical industry, and agriculture, all on various platforms to train 13,000 Nigerians in five months.
These platforms are the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP), Air-conditioning and Refrigeration (Training on Wheels), and Designing and Garment Making (Training on Wheels) for Nigerian youths.
Others are Skills Training and Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEPP-C), Post-Harvest Techniques and Project Development, Aqua-culture/Fish Farming, Manure Production, Crop Production/Greenhouse Technology Poultry farming, Training Programme Development on International Marketing.
In the face of this bleak outlook and in line with our mandate, the fund has also accordingly unveiled one of its most ambitious plans, tagged the “ITF Reviewed Vision: Strategies for Mandate Actualisation”.
“It is a six-year plan divided into Quick wins, medium and long-term goals. The implementation of the plan, which commenced in late 2016 will terminate in 2022.
“The key 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 strictures impinging the actualization of the fund’s mandate.
“About two years into its implementation, I am pleased to say that, it has almost exceeded expectation by training over 150,000 Nigerians, who are today earning sustainable livelihoods as paid employees, or as entrepreneurs that are employing others. ”
ITF has expanded the existing skills acquisition programmes and introduced new initiatives.
These programmes include the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), the Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP), Passion to Profession Programme (P2PP), the Skills Training Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEPP-C) and the Construction Skills Empowerment Programme (CONSEP) among several others.
In addition, unlike in the past where the ITF depended on state governments to assist trainees with start-up kits, all the beneficiaries of the programme were provided with start-up kits by the fund.
“The essence was to ensure that they started their businesses upon graduation. The decision to provide start-up packs was based on results of our tracer studies of earlier phases, which revealed that in all cases where the trainees were provided with the kits, over 90 percent earned reasonable livelihood as entrepreneurs.”

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Experts Okay FG’s Plan To Stop Food Importation …Say It’ll Boost Foreign Reserve

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Financial experts yesterday backed the Federal Government’s move to stop foreign exchange on food importation, saying it would boost the nation’s foreign reserve and local production of food items.
They told newsmen in Lagos that the policy, if properly implemented, would curb importation as well as protect value of the naira.
A professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, said that one of the ways to protect the value of the naira was to curb importation.
“This is a difficult time for the external sector of our economy and government must act to protect serious downward slide in the value of the naira.
“Oil price is going down again and the foreign reserve has started declining due to Central Bank of NIgeria (CBN) intervention in the forex market.
“One of the ways to protect the value of the naira is to curb importation. So the President was right in taking that decision,’’ Tella said.
He said that the policy would encourage and assure farmers that “if they increase their outputs, they can always find customers, which are good for the economy.
“Nigeria should have no business importing food in the 21st century if we had modernised agriculture in the last one or two decades, but we still see farmers carry cutlass and hoes to farm to produce food.
“Farmers in all areas, crops, animal husbandry, livestock, and even agro-allied industries should take advantage of this policy to unleash their potential and modernise their operations,’’ Tella said.
He, however, said that consumers would suffer in the immediate term because prices of food items would increase.
“But in the medium to long term, if the tempo of production activities to be generated is sustained, everyone will be better off.
“At least, we can be forced to consume what we produce,’’ Tella added
A chartered stockbroker and Chief Executive Officer, Sofunix Investment and Communications, Mr Sola Oni, said that philosophy of stopping food importation was to revolutionise agriculture, Nigeria’s hitherto economic life wire.
Oni, however, said that it requires a strong political will to implement such a policy.
He said that adequate infrastructure and incentives must be provided to encourage local production of such food items.
“The economics of the policy is to create employment opportunities locally and earn foreign exchange through exportation of such food items in the final analysis.
“The big elephant in the house is the usual issue of implementation. Nigeria has never lacked good policies but the strength of character to ensure implementation.
“It is hoped that policy will not be circumvented by rent seeking Nigerians who always have their way through top-level political network,’’ he said.
Oni said that he was in support as long as it would not cause extreme hardship.
He noted that the benefits of the policy outweigh challenges in the medium and long run if properly handled.
“Why must we import what we can produce, thereby depleting our external reserves,’’ he asked.
According to him, government should be sure that Nigeria has achieved food security.
“The policy can be done in phases to ease possible tension. It could be done in three to five years before full implementation,’’ Oni said.
President Buhari had, last Tuesday, directed the CBN to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country.
According to him, the directive is to achieve steady improvement in agricultural production, and attainment of full food security.

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EKEDC Supplies Prepaid Meters To 246,587 Customers

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The Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC), yesterday says it has supplied 246,587 customers with prepaid meters out of the 501,532 customers within its network as at August 2019.
The General Manager, Corporate Communications, Mr Godwin Idemudia, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the company had engaged the service of seven Meter Asset Providers (MAP) operators which include Mojec, Armese, Bendoriks, Gospell, IRL,Turbo and CIG.
He said three out of the seven MAPs appointed for the company by the regulators had commenced operations.
According to him, “They (MAPs) have done their pre-installation survey which have been validated. MAPs are to supply meters.’’
He also said that in spite of the company’s efforts in ensuring that customers within its network were supplied with meters in no distant time, EKEDC’s debt profile remained on the high side.
Idemudia said the company’s debt profile as at the third quarter of 2019 stood at N65 billion as a result of some customers not paying for the electricity consumed within its network.
According to him, the MDAs debt to-date stands at N22.5 billion.
He identified metering gap, restive customers or hostility in certain areas and agitation from pressure groups as constraints affecting EKEDC’s collection of payments.
Idemudia noted that others include non-payment by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); limitations by National Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) regulations; and entitlements by consumers due to the post-mentality of government-owned defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).
He also identified price ceiling as one of the reasons mitigating the prepaid metering processes in the country.
Idemudia said the regulators had noted that if the MAPs go ahead to sell the meters at a higher rate, the Distribution Companies (DisCos) would bear the balance.
The spokesman explained that the price ceiling had prolonged negotiation between the DisCos and some of the MAP operators, while another major challenge had been funding.
‘’However, the Federal Government in its wisdom came up with the MAP scheme as a permanent solution and we are excited to see the outcome of the initiative,’’ he said.
Idemudia, however, noted that meter installation under the MAP scheme is in progress within the company’s network.
According to him, the DisCo has arrested and prosecuted 13 customers for vandalism and 12 for energy theft in the last six months
NERC had on April 5, this year, directed all DisCos to commence the distribution of prepaid meters under MAP not later than May 1, 2019.

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‘Adequate Data, Key To Effective Housing Delivery’

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A real estate developer, Mr Samuel Ukpong, has identified provision of adequate data and adherence to rules and regulations as key to effective housing delivery.
Ukpong, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Lagos Chapter, made the observation in Lagos, yesterday.
He said that adequate data was a critical component of housing delivery and finance.
According to him, understanding of the income and mortgage data of the population of a place is of utmost importance in planning for housing.
He said that the lack of data was a major constraint undermining private sector participation and good policy engagement in provision of affordable housing.
“Record of the total population of the people, the number living in decent houses, number of those still in need of houses and the figure of the available housing stock, are all necessary to serve as a guide in planning and delivery houses.
“The right data leads to information, information leads to knowledge and knowledge leads to good decisions,” he said.
Ukpong said that development of a housing finance data in Nigeria would assist policy makers, developers and investors to grow the housing sector.
He said, “We need good and enough information to be able to provide good and affordable housing for the population; if we have accurate data, we will be able to plan well.”
Ukpong said that there was the need for proper education of stakeholders in the housing sector, adding that non-compliance to construction regulations and standards also militated against housing development.
According to him, contractors, developers, regulators and end-users of houses need to be well informed on the rules and standards of constructions.
“The education will strengthen cooperation among players in the industry, particularly contractors and clients, who cut corners to maximise profit in the course of housing constructions.
“The long term effect of compromising standards will affect the durability of the houses, which will invariably result in reduction in housing stock,” he said.

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