THE Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has started training 700 youths in Information and Technology (ICT) under its Infotech Skills Empowerment Programme (ISEP). The programme, which is in its first phase, had youths from six states: Plateau, Bauchi, Imo, Ondo, Kaduna, Cross River and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). ITF Director-General Sir Joseph Ari disclosed this during a visit to an ITF centre in Bauchi State. He said beneficiaries would receive specialised skills in computer hardware maintenance, advanced computer networking and computer networking. Of the objectives of the programme, he said it would produce certified professionals that would bridge the ICT skills gap, prepare youths for job and wealth creation, stimulate growth, promote entrepreneurship and self-employability and reduce youth restiveness. Ari said unlike the Fund’s other intervention programmes that are targeted at a broader segment of Nigerians, ISEP is restricted to holders of the Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and above. He said Computer Hardware and Maintenance (A+) and Computer Networking (M+) trainees were required to hold an OND, while beneficiaries of Advanced Computer Networking (CCNA) were to have the Higher National Diploma (HND) or its equivalent. Ari said the ITF would pay each trainee a monthly stipend of N5,000 during the three-month training, adding that successful participants would get start-up packs to set up their own business. He added that to enhance participants’ employability, the trainees would be enrolled for professional exams, such as the CISCO, CompTia A+, CompTia N+ and CCNA. He charged participants to take the programme serious, warning that only those tho completed the course work, achieved at least 70 per cent attendance and had above 80 per cent in the final exams, would graduate. He said ISEP was ITF’s commitment to boosting job creation, adding that it trained 450,000 last year. Responding on behalf of the trainees, Abdullahi Yusuf, lauded the ITF for its strides in entrepreneurship and employability. He said ISEP was a laudable initiative, especially for graduates seeking jobs, pledging that the Bauchi centre would make the best of the opportunity given them.