By Etuka Sunday
No fewer than 4,700 youths would be trained as Electrical Fidders, Cable Jointers, Linesmen (Climbers), and District Sub-station Operators under the National Power Sector Apprenticeship Scheme (NAPSAS), yesterday flagged off by President Goodluck Jonathan. NAPSAS is a new initiative of the Federal Ministry of Power aimed at ensuring the continuation of government’s efforts to further harness the benefits of the ongoing Reform in the Power Sector. The Candidates who were drawn from the 36 states of the federation 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 (NOU).
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.