Industrial skills development has emerged as one of the most effective human resource development strategies that Nigeria needs for rapid industrialisation and national development. Nigeria as a nation has to move from the colonial literary education to a more functional technical and vocational skills development as a means of fostering economic growth and development.
For the above to materialise, the Nigerian nation must refocus on the utilitarian value of skills acquisition and development. This is because adequately skilled workforce is a basic requirement for driving the engine of industrial and economic growth and skills development holds the key to building this type of technical and entrepreneurial workforce.
This is why the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) was set up by the military administration of General Yakubu Gowon. The ITF was established by Decree (now Act) Number 47 on October 6, 1971, to promote and encourage the acquisition of skills in commerce and industry with a view to generating a pool of indigenous trained manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the economy. This she has successfully being doing for the past 27 years. Students under the scheme usually undertake six months or one year under ITF.
In the past, Nigerians from poor economic background whose parent are struggling to pay their school fees have leverage on allowance from the scheme to continue the education and even carter for other needs.
However, the plight of students currently undergoing the scheme with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is a source of concern. This is because students doing Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) with the corporation have not been paid their allowance for about five months. This has brought untold hardship on the student as most of them find it difficult to feed and meet up with other responsibilities.
Similarly, SIWES student who were hoping to save their meager allowance to further their education are getting frustrated by the day. It is unpatriotic for ITF or any government agency to deliberately bring hardship to students by withholding funds that have been released for payment of their SIWES allowances.
Unless urgent action is taken to check the prevailing sharp practices in the operations of the ITF SIWES scheme, students will continue to be ripped off. We are appealing to the management of the corporation to looking into these issues and address them quickly, so that those students can have their hopes redeem.
Raji Ayinavo Achoko,