By taking the lead in the establishment of sector skills councils, the private sector can enhance skills of employees to enhance employability, said Chuma Ezedinma, national programme officer, UNIDO while addressing the private sector stakeholders in Lagos on the gains of sector skills councils to employers and the overall economy of the country.
Ezedinma asked the private sector in Nigeria to initiate the establishment of the councils to reduce the skills gaps, shortages, improve productivity and to support employers in developing and managing apprenticeship standards, since the sector skills councils globally are employer- led organisations that cover specific industries in the their respective countries.
“UK has 19 sector skills councils; sector skills councils are also used in South Africa and Singapore to improve skills and occupational standards but Nigeria has none,” said Simon Armstrong, senior industrial skills adviser. He urged the country's private sector to come together and form the skills councils in various sectors without delay and not to wait for the government to do it. The private sector can also approach federal and state governments for initial funding.
“In the UK government is funding their (skill councils) operation by spending £1.4 million yearly. In Nigeria, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), might use the 1 per cent training levy from employers for this purpose and move to become a skills funding agency,” Armstrong added.
Dickson Onuoha, acting director general of ITF, disclosed that ITF in association with UNIDO is conducting industrial skills gaps assessment to identify skills availability, skills requirements and skills mismatch in the Nigerian industrial sector.
“The supply side of the study is almost concluded while the demand side is still ongoing. Findings from the supply side of the study show that skills gaps cannot be adequately identified without the establishment of functional sector skills councils,” he said.
Around 45 members of the private sector drawn from the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NASME, MAN and NACCIMA including key players in the cotton, textile, garments, petrochemical and automotive industries attended the meeting. (NA)
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