Worried by the low level skill acquisition in information and communication technology in the country's educational system and its resultant negative impact on job creation efforts, Federal Government has unveiled plans to establish ICT skills Enhancement programme (ISEP) in three cities, Lagos Abuja and Port Hacourt.

The programme which is commencing as a pilot scheme is being driving by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) with the aim of developing Nigeria's technical brain power in ICT that would bridge the knowledge-gap between the existing universities, polytechnics and the global IT industry.

THISDAY gathered that the special training programme which is a follow-up to the government's Computer for All Nigerians Initiative (CANI) flagged-off by President Olusegun Obasanjo a few weeks ago, is targeted mostly at school-leavers, especially those from the universities and polytechnics graduates.

Director-General of NITDA, Prof. Cleopas O. Angaye, said while unveiling that, Nigeria's software workers, perform mainly low-level programming tasks, adding that "lack of higher skills in software means that Nigeria is lagging behind other Western Countries".

According to him, ISEP is to be a new entity in the education sector which is aimed at bridging the gap between the existing Universities, Polytechnics and the global IT industry with the initial take-off in the three major cities.

NITDA said government intends to spread out the ICT empowerment training programme to all the six geo-political zones of the country.

"The ISEP is to be located in each of the six geo-political zones in the long term but as a startup, the pilot program will begin in three states namely Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt. The ISEP will target tertiary undergraduate (to provide grounding in core software programming and development) and post tertiary education students (continuing education).

The pilot phase will target recent graduates and youth coppers", he said.

He added that: "The aim of this was to observe the dynamics and infrastructure of existing programs with the objective of adapting and implementing it to the Nigerian market.

"The ICT Skills Enhancement Program (ISEP) is part of an ambitious effort by the NITDA to develop Nigeria's technical brain power. Nigeria is a country known more for its technicians than technology innovators and as such building a new type of IT Educational system, especially one thatcombines the technology with creativity and the practical skills would bring about the much needed impact", he said.

Before arriving at the proposal for ISEP, NITDA, had in partnership with firms from the Organized Private Sector, embarked upon a needs assessment study to a number of international institutions of high repute.

Details of the training programme shows that there will be an Open Day, whereby students can apply (and be screened) for the training program, after which the program will commence. It will last for six weeks and courses to be taught will range from database fundamentals, multimedia and computer graphics to business intelligence and human computer interaction.

The D-G said the obective is to "nurture the Nigerian talent to challenge places such as the USA's Silicon Valley, as a high-tech leader for the next generation".

He said the primary goal and objective of the program is to produce world class IT professionals for local and international markets and create the enabling environment to attract foreign IT firms and outsourcing opportunities. This Day

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