08 November 2014, Abuja – The federal and state governments have again provided some level of financial comfort to operators – generation, distribution and transmission companies – in Nigeria’s emerging electricity sector with its decision to train 7,400 young Nigerians in four core technical skills that are hugely deficient in the sector.
Announcing its decision to provide such ameliorative measure to address the dearth of skilled technical manpower in the country’s power sector, President Goodluck Jonathan who inaugurated the National Power Sector Apprenticeship Scheme (NAPSAS) yesterday in Abuja, stated that the new development would provide a minimum comfort to new operators in the sector.
The president spoke through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, saying that NAPSAS will further drive the government’s intentions for the power sector, and at the same time, complement the efforts of the new operators in the sector’s challenging terrain.
Jonathan also said the apprenticeship scheme was developed to further underpin the importance of Nigeria’s youthful population in her economic growth and development.
According to him, within NAPSAS, skilled technicians who will take charge of technical operations in Nigeria’s power sector will emerge within the next couple of months to replace the aging workforce that was inherited by the new operators from defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
He listed the areas that NAPSAS would concentrate its six-month training on to include district substation operators, cable jointers, linesmen and electrical fitters.
The 7,400 apprentices are to be trained within a joint scholarship from the federal and state governments.
While state governments are expected to sponsor 100 apprentices from their states, the federal government will also match that with additional 100 apprentices to make 200 from each states; the federal government will also provide monthly allowance of N18,000 for each of them to be trained by the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) in collaboration with the National University Commission (NUC).
NAPTIN charges N250,000 to accommodate and train an apprentice under such module but it is not clear how much the government is willing to pay NAPTIN to train the 7,400 apprentices within the scheme, however, based on NAPTIN’s official rate, it will cost about N1.8 billion to train that number for the sector.
However, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, said in his remarks that the power sector was hugely affected by the dearth of skilled manpower, and which he said now threatens the sector’s growth trajectory.
“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 privatised successor companies inherited a power sector that had not recruited for 16 years, not structured skills training for the technical manpower for 23 years,” Nebo said.
He further noted that: “The sector is bedeviled by an ageing workforce. Presently, there is a huge deficit especially among the technicians, artisans and craftsmen who account for not less than 20 per cent of the entire present workforce. More than 20 per cent of these artisans were between 51 to 60 years as at 2012. One can only imagine the numbers two year after.”
The minister also stated that with the expected expansion of access to power in the country, it is projected that the sector will require additional 8200 artisans and craftsmen between now and 2020.
In justification of NAPSAS, he said: “It is on the back drop of the precarious situation that this novel intervention is being implemented. NAPSAS was initiated by the ministry of power to bridge the wide gap in the low end skill cadre of the power sector.
“NAPSAS is a fast track capacity building and skills acquisition programme through an apprenticeship scheme. President Goodluck Jonathan has graciously approved the two-year program with a total number of 7,400 trainees.
“The federal government will sponsor 3,700 trainees (100 each from the 36 states and the FCT). Another 3,700 trainees (100 each from 36 states and FCT) will be sponsored by each respective state. A stipend of N18,000 per month shall be paid to each trainee for the six month duration of the programme and the training will be conducted in four batches within two years across the six geo-political zones,” Nebo added.
– This Day