One of the challenges confronting the new privately led power sector in Nigeria is that of capacity building deficit-a wider skill gap created due to embargo on employment in the defunct National Electric
Power Authority (NEPA) /Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) since 1998.
More so, the disengagement resulting from the current power reform further stretched the situation. As a result, the privatised successor companies inherited a power sector that had not recruited for 16 years, and not structured skills training for the technical manpower for 23 years.
This prompted the Federal Ministry of Power to think out of the box by evolving a scheme called National Power Sector Apprenticeship Scheme (NAPSAS) that would not only bridge the skill gaps in the sector, but would ensure the continuation of government’s efforts to further harness the benefits of the ongoing Reform in the Power Sector.
Flagged off by President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday last week, NAPSAS-a 2 year program with a total number of 7400 Trainees drawn from across the states of the federation was designed to bridge the gap that existed in the power sector due to years of neglect.
The 4,700 youths would be trained as Electrical Fidders, Cable Jointers, Linesmen (Climbers), and District Sub-station Operators under NAPSAS.
As planned, the Federal government is expected to train 3,700 of the youths out of the total number of 7,400, while the State Governments including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, would be expected to match that number by sponsoring the rest 3,700 of the youths. Speaking at the Flag off Ceremony held at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, President Goodluck Jonathan said the scheme was in furthering of the transformation agenda to create more job opportunities for Nigerian youths.
The President who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim said, NAPSAS was a skill-based programme designed to bridge the gap that existed in the power sector due to years of neglect.
He therefore urged the participants to contribute their best to the electricity chain industry so as to boost the economy.
Giving the overview of the power sector, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo said, “One of the critical challenges of the Nigeria power sector, which has become even more acute with the reform is the lack of adequate human capital. The embargo on employment in the defunct PHCN/NEPA since 1998 created a wider skill gap in the sector. The disengagement resulting from the reform further stretched the situation.
The privatized successor companies inherited a power sector that had not recruited for 16 years, not structured skills training
for the technical manpower for 23 years. “A sector bedevilled by an ageing workforce. Presently, there is a huge deficit especially among the Technicians, Artisans and Craftsmen who account for less than 20% of the entire present workforce.
More than 20% of these artisans were between 51 – 60 years as at 2012. One can only imagine the numbers 2 year after. With the expansion of access to power, It is projected that the sector will require additional 8200 artisans and craftsmen between now and 2020.
It is on the back drop of the precarious situation that this novel intervention is being implemented.
“His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan GCFR has graciously approved the 2 year program with a total number of 7400 Trainees.
“With this initiative, Mr. President has once again demonstrated his passion and commitment in creating employment opportunities for our teeming youth population and empowering them with the skills and resources they need to serve as value adders in their communities. Above all, the skill gap in the power sector will gradually close as the trained youths assume their roles in their respective professions,” he concluded.
The Candidates would be trained by the National Power Training Institute (NAPTIN), the training arm of the Federal Ministry of Power in collaboration with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOU).
This is not the first time the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), would be engaged in the business of training Nigerian Graduates in anticipation of the power revolution. Ideally, it was in a bid to fill the gap that long existed in the sector that the Federal government established the National Power
Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) in 2009, exactly four years after the passing into law of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, to train highly skilled manpower needed to run the sector.
Speaking recently to Energy Correspondents in Abuja on the strategy for the implementation of NAPSAS, the NAPTIN’s Director General, Engr. Reuben Okeke said, “considering the target number of trainees and
programme duration, (7,400 in a year), NAPTIN is partnering with National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to leverage on NOUN’s presence in all the states of Nigeria.
“NAPTIN was supported by the Ministry of Power to sign MoU with all the DisCos, GenCos and TCN to enable NAPTIN undertake the field practical on-the-job training using the utilities’ facilities.
“NOUN will undertake the soft skills component of the training consisting of work Ethics and Communication Skills. At the end of the programme, NAPTIN and NOUN will jointly undertake certification.
“To reduce cost, trainees are to remain in their usual place of abode and attend both classroom and practical training at study centres and utility companies closer to them,” he said.
On training delivery approach, he said, “training and coordination will be undertaken in NOUN study centres and NAPTIN Regional Training centers respectively.
“The modalities for training of these Artisans and Craftsmen are hinged on classroom and field practical learning approaches.
“7, 400 trainees will be batched into two groups within 1 year across the six geo-political zones in order to fit into available classrooms and number of trainees that can be deployed to the utility companies for effective learning and knowledge transfer.
“The first3, 700 trainee will be trained within six months in one batch; while the rest of 3,700 trainees will be trained in the other half of the year.
“Each batch will be exposed to intensive couching in a rotational manner for six months before graduation.
“Four weeks will be spent during the hand-on classroom training, while 20 weeks will be spent during the field practical on-the-job training.
“NAPSAS will provide a pool of additional 7, 000 skilled and competent workforce by 2016,” he concluded.
With this development, it is expected that the skill gap that hitherto existed in the power sector for ages would be properly bridged.