The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has disclosed that the recognition of the citizens especially the youths as the greatest assets in an economy has prompted the ministry and its parastatals to continue championing the paradigm shift that places emphasis on skills acquisition.

Dr Pantami made this disclosure today at the virtual closing ceremonytraining on Digital Literacy and Skill Acquisition tagged “Digital States Initiative” sponsored by National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA).

The pilot edition of the  training was held in four states across country namely: Kano, Lagos, Gombe and Rivers states with almost 2,500 participants.

The Minister averred that there is a major gap between what the youths are learning at the schools and the tangible skills required to flourish in the work places and industries, adding that degrees are only meant to validate skills, and the growing trend across the globe and many countries are promoting the acquisition of skills.

While maintaining that the ministry and its parastatals have rolled out several capacity building programmes targeted at the people from different sectors of the economy, Dr Pantami acknowledged that the government still has a huge responsibility to ensure that many youths are equipped with prerequisite skills needed to navigate digital economy.

He noted that his ministry is making tremendous efforts in pursuing a robust and all-encompassing human capacity development agenda that will create a competitive environment for the development and production of IT goods and services.

He said: “Our policies have been designed to serve as a foundation for rapid development in all sectors, and through the parastatals, we have built hundreds of digital capacity training center and IT hubs across the country to facilitate these programmes.” He further assured that with each executed project initiative, ‘we are inching closer and closer to our target of having a digitally literacy society.”

While expressing his ministry’s commitment to developing the capacity of Nigerians to use technology to solve problems, he stated that the ministry has partnered with different institutions to enable Nigerians acquired cutting edge digital skills within the comfort of their homes.’

According to the minister, the Digital Nigeria programme provides a platform to empower Nigerians to develop relevant skills and build innovative solutions to address community challenges, and concerted efforts have been made to strengthening the capacity of Information and Communication Technology department in higher education institutions, primary and secondary schools across the country.

He added that the aim is to develop a digitally literate workforce for the government, equip them with skills required to participate in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the NITDA’s Director General, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE affirmed that the desire of the Agency is to train all Nigerians, adding that the second phase of the training would take place in one state each in all the geopolitical zone.

He noted that the 2,457 youths that participated in the training have been prepared and positioned to benefit from the digital economy.

While addressing the participants, DG NITDA said, “The programme is designed to prepare you and empower you with productivity skill in a Digital Economy; the experience you need to assess, the use digital devices and also a skills for you to be able to create content in a digital platform and study a digital marketing skill because when you create a content you need to sell it, so you need these three key skills for you to benefit from Digital economy.”

Abdullahi further stated that the training would prepare the beneficiaries for post COVID-19 era which would provide the platform to unlearn how thing were done before COVID-19.

He said, “You need to relearn new way of doing things because technology is changing and disrupting the way we live, work and learn.  Therefore, for us to benefit in this new world, we need to create a talent pool and talent is the best way for us to succeed as a nation.

“Our aim is to create as many talents as we can so that we can be exporting our talent to other countries with the new flexible way of working. If you have this talent, you can work from any country you want. You can work for United States, you can work for European countries, Asians or Middle East and you can be paid in foreign currencies while you live in Nigeria,” he said

While wishing them the best in their new skill, the DG said that NITDA would be looking forward to collaborate with them because the “essence is not just to train you and let you go but we want to create an eco-system whereby we can use it and train more Nigerians.”

The representative of the Lagos State governor and Commissioner for Health. Prof Akin Abayomi commended the Agency for choosing Lagos state as one of the beneficiaries.

He said, “We are mindful of the fact that we are in the age of data and digital technology. If we are going to be competitive around the world, we need to bring our youths in line with data technology development that are happening globally so that we can be economically competitive and engage the rest of the world in advancing the benefits that can be derived from this technology and rapid explosion of the knowledge economy that can be derive from mining, collecting and processing data.

Also, the Microsoft Country Manager, Mr. Akin Banuso lauded the minister for his consistency to purse with he believes in skill acquisition.

He noted that Microsoft would continue to support the government’s efforts at providing required skills Nigerians youths needed to be players in the digital economy.

Beneficiaries of the training were full of praises for the ministry and NITDA for facilitating the training.

A trainee who spoke on behalf of his colleagues from Kano Mr. Buhari Ahmed Hassan said the training has availed him with the skill needed to be a content writer.

 

By Lukman Oladokun

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