Abuja (Power Ministry Report) – The Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil has expressed optimism that the National Power Sector Apprenticeship Scheme will radically bridge the existing technical personnel gap needed to run the power sector.
Speaking during the flag-off ceremony of the scheme in Abuja lately, the Deputy Minister noted that the workforce in the newly privatized DISCOs and GENCOs is comprised of ageing and sick people. “It is very sad that we handed over power assets to the private sector under this deplorable condition. It is now time for the responsive Government of President Goodluck Jonathan to redress the situation through this apprenticeship scheme,” he stated.
“The scheme has been conceived to train critical mass of lower level manpower like filters, machinists, pole climbers, sub-station operators and joiners. The scheme is not for engineers but for artisans whose skills will enable them to operate and be gainfully employed in the power sector. They will have entrepreneurial ability to become employers after their training.”
Mohammed Wakil inferred that posterity will not forgive leaders if they allow a situation where even technicians will be imported from abroad. Adding, the scheme will be driven by the overriding interest of home-grown, skillful individuals, including areas like renewable energy as solar technology will offer budding opportunities to Nigerian youths.
He observed that the programme is not in conflict with existing ones run by the National Power Training Institute (NAPTIN), rather unlike the engineers’ programmes, the prerequisite certification is the First School Leaving Certificate, Ordinary National Diploma and Higher National Diploma; noting that the idea of NAPSAS is to build capacity for artisans in the lower and middle levels in the sector.
While responding to the issue whether the reason why the programme has attracted large number of participants is the stipend of N18, 000.00 monthly allowance promised, the Minister explained that he does not think so. He expressed assurance that many people will make best use of the training, insisting that some may even earn above 100,000 after they have acquired necessary skills.
The Minister informed the group that Government intends to drive its youth empowerment programmes in such a manner that they would complement one another. “The Sure-P programme and other developmental initiatives will no doubt stem youth restiveness in the North-East and indeed every other part of Nigeria,” posited.
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