THE executive secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Professor Idris Bugaje, has called for the establishment of a National Skills Development Fund (NSDF).
Bugaje said the fund should be created to support the informal skills sector as a way of achieving self-reliance and economic growth.
He particularly noted that such a fund would support the ‘Panteka’ market in Kaduna and other informal skills sectors across the country
He made the call at the graduation of the first set of artisans from the Panteka market in Kaduna, noting the 23 artisans were trained at the Centre for Technology Development, CTD, Kaduna Polytechnic.
Bugaje disclosed that they were subsequently awarded the National Skills Qualification (NSQ), Level 3 certification by the Nigerian Institute of Building, NIOB.
The graduates were certified in masonry, plumbing installation, welding and fabrication as well as electrical installation, among others. Also, three of the graduates were members of staff of the board who formed the cohort and they also got the certification.
According to Mr Bugaje, Panteka market has the potential of reinventing Nigeria and sustaining a good future for the youths through the creation of wealth, employment, and bolster self-reliance in technology.
He also said that intervention such as ‘Tradermoni’ among other political ones had little sustainable impact on the nation’s economy.
The executive secretary described Panteka market as one of the greatest gifts to the Northern States of Nigeria, with its hub in Kaduna and several offshoots across the states.
“In unleashing hidden talents, passing down invaluable skills and shaping the future of aspiring learners, Panteka must be supported by the government to bloom and reach its zenith,” he said.
He thanked the rector and management of the polytechnic for not abandoning the CTD and its ‘Panteka Project,adding that “rather you are taking steps to further consolidate and expand its scope.”
Rector of Kaduna Polytechnic, Dr Sulaiman Umar, said the unique event was a realisation of one of the objectives of the institution to upgrade the capacity of the Panteka artisans.
‘The certification of the artisans was aimed at providing them with necessary certificates that would make them available for the formal sector, including foreign clients,” he said.
Umar recalled that in 2021, the polytechnic offered to train 70 artisans to acquire the NSQ Level 3 qualification in their respective trades as a corporate social responsibility at no cost to the artisans of the Panteka market association.
He said the training was after the institution’s resolution to key into the NSQ framework that was approved by the Federal Government and coordinated by the NBTE.
The rector said, “It is the mind of the polytechnic to support the artisans with equipment and tools that are either too expensive for them or rare to facilitate their otherwise tedious and sometimes unconventional production processes.”
Umar disclosed that the polytechnic was on the verge of completing its Skills Equipment Centre whose equipment and tools would be available to the Panteka artisans on demand.
He, therefore, called on all the stakeholders to support the initiative for the overall development of youths and make them self-reliant.
The rector thanked NBTE, NIOB, old Panteka Market Development Association, staff of CTD and other stakeholders for their support and dedication that culminated in the ceremony.
Also, Sulaiman Shehu, Chairman of the association said that the certification of the artisans would ensure more dignity of their skills.
He also said they would be more valuable and treated with respect in the adventure of selling their skills across the globe.
Mr Shehu urged them to be honest in their daily affairs and to ensure proper mentoring of the young ones on skills acquisition.