By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA- FOR three months, 300 youths selected from various communities in Anambra State were exposed to a rigorous training organised by the Industrial Training Fund, ITF, under its National Industrial Skills Development Programme, NISDP, after which they were empowered with starter packs to begin a new phase in their lives. The programme is part of the Federal Government’s job creation and poverty reduction programme in which 11,000 youths are targeted across the country.
Though ITF has been training youths over the years for skills acquisition, the 300 youths trained in Anambra State were the first set to receive starter packs for their businesses. Even during the period of the training, the youths were paid stipends by the Federal Government to enable them transport themselves to and from the venues of the training.
In fact, at their passing out in Awka, the joy of the youths knew no bounds as they danced and clutched their equipment showing that they were ready to join the club of young entrepreneurs in the country. One of their trainers, Mr. Chris Arinze said with the equipment given to the beneficiaries, the sky has become their limit. “With this gesture from ITF, you have been made. ITF is the only organisation that truly empowers youths as others are merely used to achieve political purposes,”Arinze observed.
The Director-General of ITF, Sir Joseph Ari said the beneficiaries, who were trained in tailoring and fashion design, welding and fabrication, as well as in plumbing and pipe-fitting, were carefully selected based on their potential for value addition to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
Ari, who spoke through Mr. Peter Agu, an official of ITF, said it was the first time the trainees received starter packs, adding that under the present phase, the empowerment would be extended to 11,000 beneficiaries across the 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
He said: “This event marks a watershed since we commenced implementation of the NISDP as we have taken a step further from merely training and equipping the youths with knowledge and skills, to providing them with starter packs to enable them set up their businesses and hit the ground running.
“The decision to provide the packs was informed by our tracking and monitoring of trainees of the earlier phases, which revealed that when supported with start-up packs, 90 per cent of the trainees went on to be successful entrepreneurs or even employers of labour.
“The start-up packs distributed to the trainees should be viewed as our practical example and message to our stakeholders, especially state governors and other members of the Organised Private Sector, OPS, that training without corresponding support will not lead to expected outcomes.”
Some of the beneficiaries said with what they got from ITF, they were ready to face life challenges, which they hope to surmount since they have skills to prove their worth in the society.
Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who was represented at the ceremony, commended ITF for introducing the programme and urged the organisation to make the empowerment more frequent to accommodate more youths.
He also advised the beneficiaries to make maximum use of the opportunity, noting that with what they had received from ITF, the sky had become the limit for them.