By Adedapo Adesanya The Akwa Ibom State Government is set to boost economic activities and manpower of the state as it takes over the ultra-modern Woodwork and Carpentry workshops it renovated and upgraded at the Government Technical College (GTC) Abak by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB). The commissioning was performed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem and the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Kesiye Wabote. In his address, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB disclosed that the agency invests in the rehabilitation of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institutions (TVETs) because they provide platforms for job creation and self-empowerment. He added that the development of skilled technicians drives the socio-economic growth aspirations of President Muhammadu Buhari\u2019s administration and engages youths in productive ventures. He emphasised the need to provide high-quality manpower training and skills development for the teeming youths in the country, which was why the Board undertook a study on TVETs in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers States to understand the factors militating against the optimal performance of those institutions. He mentioned that the board had finalized plans for the implementation of a public-private in collaboration with the Akwa Ibom State and a specialist modern furniture production firm, owned and managed by an indigene of the Abak community, in which a certain percentage of the proceeds will be ploughed back for the operational maintenance of the facilities to achieve self-sustenance. Mr Wabote commended the Abak community and Akwa Ibom State Government for their cooperation in actualizing the projects, stating that the board\u2019s decision to have earmarked GTC, Abak as one of the flagship beneficiaries of its institutional upgrade program was not an effort in futility. He thanked all stakeholders for the zero-incidence recorded and the unparalleled hospitality the Abak community extended to the contractors and personnel. He charged the technical institution, which is one of the foremost in the region, to become a centre of excellence in carpentry\/woodwork through the provision of high-quality training to both teachers and students in an affordable, safe, sustainable and efficient manner while satisfying the yearnings of the local and international furniture industry as part of efforts to create wealth and diversify the economy while increasing foreign exchange earnings. The Executive Secretary decried the low level of students\u2019 enrolment into TVETs institutions, which is less than one per cent of the total enrolment in conventional secondary schools. Noting that youths make up more than 50 per cent of the nation\u2019s population, he regretted that the nation was yet to fully harness its potential in driving economic growth as many young people are faced with challenges ranging from lack of practical skills, unemployment and illiteracy, among others. He also challenged youths of the country to acquire marketable skills and competencies that will position them to overcome the high rate of poverty, social vices, unemployment and underemployment in the country. He hinted that harnessing and refocusing the creative energies of youths to productive endeavours through aggressive skills development training in various relevant trades will foster sustainable development.