An increase in technology adoption in businesses will see an estimated 46% of work activities in Nigeria susceptible to automation according to the World Economic Forum.
COVID-19 is accelerating the development of digital businesses and simultaneously changing the landscape of the job market for young people.
However, extensive research by Jobberman shows that the youth are not ready to fill these roles, especially at an intermediate and advanced level.
This could lead to attracting talent from abroad to carry out these roles.
Here are some key data points and insights from the research:
- With a population of approximately 200 million, Nigeria is home to half of West Africa’s young people, estimated at over 100 million, between the ages of 15-35 years old.
- One out of three young people are unemployed and recent data revealed job seekers are applying for more than 20 jobs per day.
- According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, underemployment amongst youth between 15 – 34 years rose to 57% in Q2 of 2020.
- More women are unemployed as 63% are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than men (43%). This means that 3 in 5 women are either unemployed or underemployed.
- Nigeria only created about 450,000 new jobs while over 5 million people joined the labour force. This led to an increase in the number of unemployed by 4.9 million people in the same year.
Based on this development, techbuild.africa caught up with Femi Balogun, Evaluation & Research Specialist at Jobberman Nigeria, who told us about the large digital skills gap in the Nigerian labour market as the continent readies itself for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)
An overview of digital skills
Balogun explained digital skills as competencies required to use digital devices, communications applications and networks to access and manage information.
Balogun divided digital skills into three segments which he stated as thus:
- Basic digital skills: using the internet, keeping passwords secure, sending emails, attaching documents and folders.
- Intermediate digital skills: the use of Microsoft office tools, social media engagement, filling forms online and making online payment
- Advance digital skills: big data, coding, machine learning, AI, software intelligence
Explaining the importance of digital skills, Balogun said:
“What we have learned from our research shows that even those who have University degrees have little understanding of digital skills compared to others without degrees and it might be difficult for young people to access jobs in the future of work. This is no longer a distant prospect, it is already here.
“The future of work is here right now and COVID-19 has fast-tracked the process. Recruiters are using technology platforms to find and match talents, using an automatic tracking system.
“As businesses continue to grow, there appears to be an improvement in technology adoption, and according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) about 46% of work activity in Nigeria is susceptible to automation.
“Due to COVID-19, that percentage may have increased, meaning that for instance as a security man you must familiarize yourself with automated gate and navigating CCTV.
“Job seekers will have to get used to working remotely, working remotely means you will use digital platforms. Digital skills are already leading the way for the world of work and future.”
Nigeria’s readiness for 4IR
According to Balogun, the opportunity of the 4IR for Nigeria is in its market size.
“We have the largest phone market in Africa today, we also have the largest youth population on the continent that positions us for that potential, but it remains a potential if we don’t improve infrastructure, strengthen our institutions particularly educational institution because at the skill level, we rank very low amongst other countries”
Balogun explained that the WEF classified the Nigerian market based on its enabling environment, human capital, market and innovation ecosystem.
According to a recent Global Competitiveness Report, Nigeria ranks 118/141 in ICT adoption, 129/144 in digital skills and 128/141 in terms of an enabling institution.
“Some of these indicators show that there is room for improvement. For instance, mobile phones are expensive, however, with mobile phones young people can create employment for themselves.
“The affordability of these mobile phones and looking at the index, women are at a great disadvantage when it comes to owning smartphones.
Balogun also identified the cost of laying fibre cables, erratic power supply and cost of data as possible causes of Nigeria’s slow adoption to 4IR.
“4IR is already here but the question is how do we want to compete on the global stage and if we don’t compete favorably, our younger people will not benefit from the potential that the digital economy can bring.”
On the role of digital skills in 4IR, Balogun identified two key drivers that can push the narrative.
- The tech driver has shown advances in computing power, big data, cloud technology, IoT, and increasing the role of innovation hubs, and all these are driving us towards the industrial revolution.
- Demographic/socioeconomic driver on the other hand has shown more of urbanization, the rise of the middle class, increased youth tech-savvy, climate change and event sustainability, ethical and privacy issues.
All these are pointers to the 4IR growing advocacy for inclusion and diversity with implications for the future of work.
How COVID-19 accelerated digital business
Balogun explained that before the pandemic, the world was already undergoing a massive business transformation.
“This was illustrated by the success of megascale businesses such Amazon prime, Twitter, Uber, Netflix, Opay.
“Instead of a downward spiral, COVID-19 has accelerated business growth particularly the work from home trend, engaging with digital platforms to interact.
“For instance in Jobberman, we had to shift from thinking about physical training to tech platforms in conducting our soft skill training.
These are things that have begun shaping learning, how we interact, and engage government or religious institutions. As we move, into this new decade, we can’t underestimate the power of digital for business, lockdown restrictions and social distancing policies law means that businesses would have to rethink engagement with customers.”
Jobberman’s role in deploying digital skills
The research by Jobberman revealed the following digital skills gap:
- There is an overwhelming skills gap in three subsectors – Software Development Digital Analysis and Network & Cybersecurity.
- Within the Software Development cluster, findings indicate that 73% of job seekers rate their proficiency at a beginner’s level across skills such as computer programming, cloud infrastructure, UI/UX, web design, mobile development and design thinking.
- Likewise for Digital Analysis and Network & Cybersecurity clusters.
- This creates a demand gap for positions such as Security Engineering, Data Science, Cyber Security and Security Architecture with a demand scale ranging between 10% and 45%.
- Within the Digital Marketing sub-sector, data suggests growing competencies in social media management and content development with proficiency ratings above 40% at advanced levels.
- Identifying a skills gap in Sales, Marketing Campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation with proficiency levels as low as 8.13% and no higher than 16.92%.
However, Balogun stated that Jobberman is poised to help bridge the gap with various partnership
“First we are beginning with our soft skill training. We have the mandate to train 5 million young people in Lagos, Kano and Kaduna and want to place 3 million of them into dignified and decent work by 2025.”
“We are helping young people by supporting them in developing employability skills. 2-4% of secondary school leavers are employable, 18-20 % of graduates are employable requiring about 1-4 years of training to become employable.
“The question as regards employability is around the ability young people to develop skills such as creativity, innovativeness, time management, professionalism, critical thinking, problem-solving. These are not embedded in our educational curriculum.
“We are going to partner with tech giants, NGOs and development partners so we can equip young people with soft skills.
“Employability isn’t just about soft skills but digital skills. We are at the forefront of ensuring that we upskill young people going forward so that they can benefit from the industrial revolution thatis already in our faces.”, Balogun concluded
Featured Image: Femi Balogun, Evaluation & Research Specialist at Jobberman Nigeria
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