The Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has called on the Federal Government to fund the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to enable it fulfil its mandate of empowering Nigerians.
Noting that the government has not fully utilised the enormous capacity of ITF, NECA argued that the fund could not survive only on contributions from the private sector to train Nigerians to acquire skills.
NECA’s Director-General Segun Oshinowo made this appeal at an interactive session with the organised private sector (OPS), on the challenges of the interpretation of the ITF Amendment Act 2011, in Lagos.
Oshinowo said the government must finance the scheme to broaden its capacity given the expertise it has acquired over the years to train more Nigerians.
“Government cannot just say private sector contribution should be utilised for training public sector manpower, it can’t work. Funding must come with capacity, there is a huge gap there for an institution that have come a long way that has built expertise, that has experience, all it requires is further contribution from government.
“Funds coming from the private sector cannot be enough and the demand on ITF based on what stakeholders know in terms of its capability is enormous, and there is nowhere we would be able to respond to them if there are no other sources of fund,” he said.
Among other issues raised at the meeting, Oshinowo said NECA would set up a committee with ITF to look at some of the issues as regards payroll contribution and come up with a definition to sum the basis of the collection to be taken from employers.
On his part, the Director-General of ITF, Joseph Ari, called for effective collaboration towards improving the trainings and skills that could be exported to earn the country Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).
While ensuring that reimbursement of claims is not delayed, he said the scheme in 2017 paid over N2billion to over 1,000 companies.
To bridge the skill gap, Ari said ITF will assist employers of labour to serve as a compass as well as continue to play its role in building the capacity of the Nigerian workforce.
“There is a need work together to harmonise the issues of training and skills, where with the huge population of Nigeria, skills could be exported to earn FDIs. Imagine a population without skills leading to negative vices witnessed in the country today. Time has come for all of us to really join force to improve on trainings and skills of Nigerians,” Ari said.