The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said it will work with relevant arms of government to ensure adequate funding of the Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) for its effective management.
Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, gave the assurance on Tuesday in Abuja while declaring open the physical and virtual 14th National Biennial SIWES Conference, organised by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF).
SIWES was initiated in 1974 among other objectives to expose and provide students of Engineering, Technical and allied disciplines with practical experience of real work situations they are likely to find on graduation.
The scheme which is being implemented by ITF emerged in response to growing concerns among employers of labour to equip graduates of tertiary institutions with adequate practical knowledge to boost the nation’s manpower.
Adebayo, represented by Mr Simon Alabi, Director, Human Resources of the ministry, said the scheme needed adequate funding taking into cognisance its usefulness and importance to the training of indigenous manpower.
“I am not unaware of the funding challenges confronting the scheme. I am equally conscious of the fact that funding has improved since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
“This leads to the payment of the backlog of some unpaid allowances to supervisors and students.
“I am, however, not unconscious of the lean resources of government and its many commitments.
“But considering the increasing financial constraints facing the scheme due to annual increase in the number of participating institutions and students, a case for such increment is not unreasonable,” he said.
He assured all stakeholders that the output of their deliberations will be forwarded to the ministry for further action in view of attempts to resolve issues bordering the scheme.
Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, lauded the efforts of the ITF management, adding that it is impressive that the fund has trained and empowered over 500,000 Nigerians.
Katagum, represented by Mallam Aminu Dogondaji, Technical Assistant to the minister, also commended the fund for expanding its training infrastructure by completing and commissioning several projects that have been abandoned for decades.
“In addition, the fund also automated most of its processes, including training services, financial transactions, remittance of training contributions, reimbursement activities and SIWES,” said.
According to the minister, the conference will assess loopholes in the modus operandi of its activities and programmes and strategies so as to achieve set goals.
Katagum, however, said the conference is apt in light of the challenges confronting the implementation of the scheme as a result of COVID-19, amongst others.
The conference which had in attendance relevant stakeholders, including representatives of institutions of higher learning, had its theme as “Implementation of SIWES in the New World Order; Roles and Responsibilities of Stakeholders