Welcome to The Octagon
The Octagon: Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do? Thank you
Toks: Hi everyone. My name is Toks Adebayo I’m the MD and founding partner of Marina HR solutions – a recruitment and training consultancy focused on Africa.
Rijo: I am Rijo Shekari, a Chartered Accountant. I currently work in financial advisory with an investment firm in Abuja.
Ernest: Ernest Danjuma Enebi. Founder and Managing Partner at Denda – a brand design and growth strategy company helping build and grow Africa owned and focused start ups, small businesses and non-profits.
Paul: Hi everyone my name is Paul Foh CEO Katalyst Consulting.
Gihan: Hi everyone, my name is Gihan Mbelu. Managing Partner of Kainetix Eleven – Business Advisory (Security and Shipping focused). It’s a pleasure meeting.
Bankole: My name is Bankole Williams. I am a management consultant and the founder of LiveYourDreamsAfrica.
Laolu: I am Laolu Alabi, also known as Damilare Baker. I run Damilare Baker Projects, a real Estate Development and Consultancy Firm. I also run Beyond Ideas limited – a Strategy and Technology firm and I am also the President and founder of eighteento35, an impact organization designed to raise high achievers, super performers and Influential leaders within the 18 – 35 age demography in Nigeria and by extension, Africa.
Akor: I am Akor Opaluwah. I am brand designer and currently completing my doctorate in International development with a focus on development policies in Nigeria.
The Octagon: The Issue of Unemployment has been in the front burner of discourse in the nation in recent years. Employers of labor often complain that even graduates though professionally or technically qualified are unemployable, in that they lack the requisite, essential skills or competencies needed in the job or for sustainable employment. Nigeria has as a result experienced a rise in skills and skills gap trainings focused to build industry, human capacity and promote economic opportunities. Is there really a skills gap? Why aren’t the skills gap trainings in Nigeria creating the desired impact? Or are they? Does our economy need more young people with professional education or education focused on industrialism or establishing small businesses? Over to you guys!
Rijo: There is absolutely a skills gap. I’ve been privileged to sit on a few panels and it’s quite frightening when you see the quality of ladies and gentlemen our tertiary institutions produce. I’ve worked on multiple teams and many people have little to bring to the table. There is the problem of a poor educational background and lack of exposure, which plagues them till university days. So you find many people that over the years have not been able to develop themselves and acquire skills that meet the requirements of the market or business environment. A contributing factor is the absence of a manufacturing or producing sector. That may have required new skill sets like programming, robotics, and advanced engineering. Millions of unemployed are chasing few jobs in the servicing sector, be it telecoms, banking, insurance or some other.
Bankole: I believe we need to go back to our educational system to discover the root cause. Firstly, we live in a society where the curriculum has not been modified to suite the Time we are in. A number of the courses students study are gradually getting extinct let alone the procedures being taught. It is imperative we begin to collate data that analyzes the current available job roles in comparison with the number of graduates universities churn out for these roles. There is clearly a mismatch.
Toks: Equipping the workforce with the skills required for the jobs of today and those of tomorrow is a real concern for Nigeria.
Gihan: I agree that there is a ‘basic skills’ gap in the Nigerian workforce. I use the term ‘basic skill’ because most working class Nigerians are highly qualified on a tertiary level. We have simply skipped the basics of education/work: Diligence, efficiency, honesty and personal growth, hence the gap. I observe that a typical 8hour work day breeds about 2hours in efficiency in Nigeria; whereas in more developed countries where wages are paid by the hour, every minute counts leading to growth in income/economy/society and ultimately build a nation. The issues are more basic than they are curriculum based. Until we use a “charity begins at home” approach to teaching ‘basic skills’ our economy simply cannot and will not grow. We will continue to widen the gaps that have taken away the ideals of real economy.
Ernest: I echo Bankoles point, which is that the gap really starts with the education system. I actually think our model of “teaching the man how to fish” as a solution to the fishing problem might be misguided. Instead we should teach the man how to think, that way he can create solutions to his problems. Very Interesting point Gihan.
Akor: That’s true. There is definitely a skill gap. Not just in the educational system, but between the educational institutions and the industry. There is a real gap in how the two communicate. So institutions just pump out graduates they desire and the industry picks from them rather than the industry stating what they desire and the institutions meeting this requirement.
Rijo: There has to be a sync between our universities and the various industries. The industries set the pace for skill requirements, while universities support with research and innovation.
Bankole: I also believe there are soft and technical skills gaps. We hire expatriates because of the evident gaps e.g in construction and in the oil and gas sectors. How about the basic artisan roles no one is interested. There are job opportunities for some of these roles but graduates are not empowered to take these roles. Also some roles seem somewhat demeaning till an educated man decides to take it up.
The Octagon: We seem to all agree that there is a gap of some sort. Are the gaps popularly identified the ones that need attention? Are the current skills gap trainings creating he desired impact?