By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
As the Industrial Training Fund holds the 13th Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme(SIWES) Biennial Conference in Abuja, the Federal Government has called on stakeholders to ensure continuous improvement of the scheme.
The Scheme which is one of government’s cardinal programmes meant to instill skills in undergraduates and engender their experiences in the world of work has over the years been faced with a myriad of challenges.
Making the call on Tuesday, the Chairman and Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar said that the upgrading of the educational curriculum through an articulated process of developing young men and women in their fields of endeavors cannot be over emphasized
The Minister of State who was represented by the Director of Policy, Research and Statistics in the Ministry Ochepa Ogenyi, commended the efforts of stakeholders at ensuring the success of the scheme despite the challenges that had bedeviled the laudable scheme over the years and called on participants at the conference to deliberate on key issues that will ensure continuous improvement of the scheme.
Earlier, the Director-General /Chief Executive Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Sir Joseph Ari stated that despite the laudability of the SIWES to the overall development of the educational sector as well as the positive impartation of requisite skills among the nation’s undergraduates, there are challenges hindering the full realization of the objectives of the scheme.
While noting that these challenges have given rise to the yawning gap in addressing the disconnect between theory and practice in the educational curriculum, he stressed the need to revisit the operational framework to ensure continuous improvement.
Sir Ari expressed optimism that the conference will address funding challenges, resolve the issue of geometric increase in the number of courses and students involved in the scheme and as well tackle the constraints experienced in the administration of the SIWES.
According to him, “In spite of all these, I make bold to say that the scheme has achieved significant success and ITF has remained passionately committed to its sustenance. SIWES is very relevant and has consequently reduced the need for the employment of expatriates in the field of engineering, technology and other professional areas”.
He further called on stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to support the effort of the ITF towards the sustenance of the scheme for the benefit of the country and to ensure that, “this baby does not die”.
The Conference which was last held six years ago is aimed at reviewing and repositioning the SIWES for better impact.