Concerned by the number of its idigenes that were engaged in street hawking in urban centres across the country, the Ebonyi State Government has entered into negotiations with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) with a view to equipping its indigenes, particularly the youths, with technical skills, so that they could compete, favourably, in the labour market.
The ITF’s Head of Publications/Media Relations, Felix Otuwarikpo, who disclosed this, on Monday, in Jos, said that the Fund had dispatched a delegation to Abakiliki, to fashion out details of the partnership.
He further disclosed that during the visit, the Secretary to Ebonyi State Government, Professor Bernard Ifeanyi Odoh, said that it was this need that informed the State Executive Council, last year, to approve a skills programme tagged “Street to Skills”, which was targeted at equipping street traders from the state with new skills.
In his words: “We started a programme last year, which was approved by the Executive Council of the State. If you have gone around Lagos, PortHarcourt, Abuja and Onitsha, a lot of young people are engaged in street hawking. Unfortunately, a majority of the people engaged in street hawking are from Ebonyi State.
“So we became worried that no matter the progress we make as a people, if we do not withdraw these young men and women and give them skills, they will erode whatever progress we make in governance,” he added. Odoh stated that the expectation of the State Government was for the proposed collaboration to yield tangible results within 12 to 18 months by taking these youths off the street by equipping them with skills to earn a living, noting that the state was prepared to extend start-up capital to beneficiaries of such skill training.
The Director of Technical Vocational Skills Training Department, Engr. Mike Afadi, who led the ITF delegation, in his response, said that the ITF viewed the invitation from the State Government as a clarion call and in tandem with the organisation’s mandate of giving Nigerians relevant skills for employ ability and entrepreneurship.
Afadi disclosed that the ITF was currently implementing the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP) that trains 1, 000 Nigerians in each State of the Federation and the FCT, noting that the only way to combat youth restiveness was to equip Nigerians with skills for employment or to enable them start their businesses.
He commended the state government for initiating the collaboration and expressed the preparedness of the ITF to meet the objectives of the state.
He disclosed that the ITF had entered into a similar collaboration with the Lagos State Government for training of the youths.