Despite the high unemployment rate in Nigeria especially among youths, job vacancies still exist in several sectors of the national economy, the Federal Government announced on Thursday.
Although it admitted that 23 million Nigerians were jobless, the government stated that an assessment carried out by its Industrial Training Fund revealed the existence of job vacancies that could not be filled by Nigerians because of the lack of requisite skills or were being filled by foreigners.
The Director-General, ITF, Joseph Ari, disclosed this in Abuja at ITF’s 2nd National Skills Summit with the theme, “Institutionalising Apprenticeship and Traineeship for National Development,” as he, however, stated that the government was making efforts to close the gaps.
He said, “According to the National Bureau of Statistics on Labour Force Statistics, Unemployment and Underemployment Report of Q4 (fourth quarter) 2020, the number of unemployed persons in the economically active or working age (i.e 15 to 65) was 122,049,400.
“Of this number, 69, 675,468 were willing to work, but only 46,488,079 were in paid employment. What could be inferred from the survey was that over 23 million Nigerians that were perhaps qualified and willing to work were without jobs.
“It also showed that the unemployment rate among the youth (i.e. people between 15 to 35 years) was up by eight per cent from 34.9 per cent to 42.5 per cent, which was the highest among other age groupings within the period under review.”
Ari added, “Despite this high unemployment rate, especially among the youths, a skills gap assessment of six priority sectors of the national economy conducted by the ITF in collaboration with the United Nations Development Organisation revealed that rather than the absence of jobs, vacancies still exist in several sectors of the national economy that either could not be filled by Nigerians because of the lack of requisite skills or were being filled by foreigners.”
The ITF boss noted that the question that came from this paradox was, “how can we plug these gaps using apprenticeship?”
He told delegates at the summit that the answer to this question could be found in countries such as Germany, China, Australia, USA and others that at various times faced similar challenges.
“What they did was to pour greater investments in skills acquisition and apprenticeship training. For instance, in Germany about two decades ago, there was mass unemployment with roughly five million unemployed people and low employment rates to the extent that it was labelled ‘the sick man in Europe,’” Ari said.
He added, “Today, nearly two-thirds of young Germans are enrolled in apprenticeships once they leave full-time education using the German Dual Vocational and educational training , nine out of 10 young trainees get a permanent job at the end, with others being offered shorter-term contracts.
“Germany is now dubbed a job wonderland and European champion with regard to its high employment rates.”
In her remarks at the summit, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Maryam Katagum, stated that as part of measures to bridge the skills gap, the ITF was currently training several thousand Nigerians.
She said the trainings were under the N-Build programme of Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
Katagum said, “Let me emphasise that the ministry has been monitoring the progress of all agencies and parastatals under its purview and I make bold to declare that the ITF is at the forefront of delivering the policies of the current administration.”
“Through its numerous skills intervention programmes, the fund has trained thousands of Nigerians that are today gainfully employed.”