Nigeria Needs More Enduring, Sustainable Strategies To Tackle Unemployment, Poverty—Trade Minister

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, on Thursday said that rising cases of unemployment in the country and the huge poverty rate in the country has made it imperative for Nigeria to have a more enduring and sustainable strategies to tackle the menace.

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The Minister said this in Abuja during the opening session of the Industrial Training Fund and Nigeria Employee Consultative Association’s Technical Skills Development Project (TSDP) Stakeholders’ Dialogue Forum and Outstanding Trainees Award Ceremony.

The Minister commended the ITF and NECA for their commitment to equipping Nigerians with technical and vocational skills and for creating avenues for dialogue, on ways of enhancing skills acquisition for national growth and development.

She said their efforts, through this initiative, have the potential to positively address some of the numerous challenges that are confronting Nigeria as a nation, including unemployment and poverty.

Although she claimed that the current administration has worked assiduously by implementing numerous intervention programmes, such as the MSME Survival Fund, National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Job creation and Youth Employment (N-Power), National Social Safety Net Programme and the Community Social Development Project (CSDP) amongst others, which have created millions of jobs and reduced poverty, it has become increasingly obvious that more enduring and sustainable strategies have to be implemented.

She said, “Across the world today, nations that have confronted and are still battling the challenges of poverty, soaring unemployment and related challenges, did so through a greater commitment to skills acquisition.

“We must do the same, as we have one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. It is with this realization that the Federal Government initiated measures, to encourage agencies vested with the mandate of equipping Nigerians with employable skills, to escalate skills acquisition to all Nigerians.

“In this regard, whereas some agencies like the ITF have taken advantage of relevant government policies to train hundreds of thousands of Nigerians through various skills intervention programmes, more still needs to be done, for the rapid growth and development of the nation’s economy.”

According to her, the need for greater collaboration and synergy among various organisations in both the public and private sectors cannot be over-emphasised.

She therefore, urged other agencies of Government to follow the example set by the ITF to enter into Public Private Partnership (PPP), to ensure the achievement of their mandates.

She added, “I believe that with PPP, we can create decent jobs in sufficient quantities, to resolve the protracted problems of unemployment and reduce poverty, while also providing a foundation for more robust and inclusive economic growth.

“Despite the commendable achievements of the ITF/NECA TSDP, there is still more room and opportunities for improvement. I am confident, that, this gathering, which has brought together academics, policymakers, and skills acquisition experts will come up with recommendations that will not only deepen the achievements and activities of the Technical Skills Development Project, but will also assist the Government, in devising measures to resolve the numerous challenges confronting the country today.”

She assured that the Ministry, in collaboration with ITF and NECA, will work assiduously to ensure that workable resolutions are implemented, for the good of the generality of Nigerians.

Also speaking at the event, the Director-General of the Industrial, Joseph Ari since the commencement of the Project, it has recorded significant milestones.

He said from six Participating Organisations when it started, the number of POs has soared to 89 currently, while also training over 56,597 highly skilled Technicians who have been able to secure high-paying quality jobs, or have set up on their own.

Similarly, he said graduates of the Project that distinguished themselves in the course of the training were empowered with Business Start-up grants, while others have been linked to employers of labour for direct employment.

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Ari said, “Despite its many achievements, there is always room for improvement. Therefore, this Forum, provides us with an opportunity to critically review the Project and harness ideas for deepening the already beneficial impact of the Public-Private Partnership even as we celebrate and reward Participating Organisations and outstanding graduates of the Programme.

“Let me use this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the ITF to ensuring that Nigerians are equipped and empowered with the requisite skills to drive the industrial change that the country needs.

“I equally want to canvass the support of all well-meaning Nigerians and organisations to support the efforts of the Fund to accomplish this onerous task and address other challenges that we are contending with especially poverty and unemployment, despite the commendable efforts of the Buhari Administration to fully address them.

“As you may be well aware, through the Special Intervention Programmes and other initiatives by Governmental Agencies, the Government has worked to significantly curb these challenges.

“Without the committed efforts of the Administration, the poverty and unemployment situation we are witnessing today could conceivably have been worse.”

In his speech at tbe event, the NECA DG, Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde
said that in the last decade, more countries across the globe are rising to tackle the crisis of unemployment and poverty.

This crisis, he stated has not only threaten local economies, it also portends enormous challenge for Regional and global economies.

Quoting statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO) “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends in 2022”, the NECA Boss said the global unemployment rate is currently projected at 207 million in 2022 surpassing its 2019 level by 21million.

The implication of this, according to him, is that the jobs crisis, with its social and economic implications, is far from over.

More specifically, he stated that the increasing rate of local and global youth unemployment and underemployment puts not only the developing economies at risk, but it also creates a new dynamic for developed economies in the context of increasing migration and pressure on socio-economic and developmental infrastructures.

He said, “Beyond just speaking about it, all stakeholders must take the Bull by the horn and support the efforts to further deepen the practice of apprenticeship and traineeship in our country.

“As we have seen in many other climes, Apprenticeship and Traineeship are playing significant roles in changing the narratives of the countries earlier mentioned. There is no reason why our should be different.

“It is important at this point, to acknowledge the efforts of Ministries, Agencies of government and organisations in the public and private sector in Nigeria, State Agencies, Development Partners, Social Partners and Civil Society Organisations.

“The ITF-NECA Technical Skills Development Project (TSDP) has been empowering youths (Traineeship) with employable skills in over 30 trade areas in order to meet the needs of industries.

“The Project is an exemplary model of a successful Public-Private Partnership, which is also been modeled by many other countries.”

He called for more partnerships and collaborations that will drive a systematic change through meaningful social dialogue, robust regulatory framework, deliberate funding, strong labour market relevance and inclusiveness. 

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