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ITF, dons seek review of SIWES courses, scheme’s expansion

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The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has said the lacuna in the educational system was the reason behind the high rate of unemployment in the country, as it was responsible for the huge skills mismatches and absence of Nigerians with requisite skills needed in the world of work. Director-General ITF, Joseph Ari, made this known at the 14th Biennial Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) National Conference, which was held recently in Abuja.

The theme of the conference was “Implementation of SIWES in the New World Order – Roles and Responsibilities of Stakeholders.” This was as the National Chairman Committee of Provosts of Colleges of Education in Nigeria, Prof. Johnson Pongri, the Vice- Chancellor of University of Jos (UNIJOS), Prof. Seddi Maimako and other dons advocated the review of curricula to extend SIWES programme.

To address the skills disparity, Ari urged participants at the conference to review the accredited disciplines, stating that some disciplines do not qualify to be captured under the scheme. Arisaidthatdespitegovernment efforts in collaborating with development partners to create job openings before the COVID-19 pandemic, 925 trades were either difficult or hard to fill.

He added: “It emerged in response to growing concerns among employers of labour that graduates of tertiary institutions lacked adequate practical knowledge. We are currently battling unemployment in the face of existing vacancies on account of such mismatch is indicative of a lacuna in the education system.

“Anyone familiar with the scheme will agree with me that some disciplines that are part of the internship programme today do not entirely qualify under the categorisation of engineering, technical and related disciplines that were the target disciplines for the scheme. I will urge the conference to critically review accredited disciplines given current challenges and other considerations.”

Meanwhile, the Vice- Chancellor University of Jos, Prof. Seddi Maimako who braised concerns over the huge gap between theory and practice, lamented the reluctance of students and parents to accept the new innovative courses which have greater job opportunities.

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