You are currently viewing Some skill-sets will not be relevant in five to 10 years – Hiring expert
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A considerable skills gap exists in Nigeria. It is mainly driven by outdated educational curricula, lack of training and the emigration of skilled workers.

Skill gaps worsen employment challenges and create social imbalance. To remain competitive, job seekers in Nigeria need to enhance their market visibility, continuously upskill, and familiarize themselves with modern hiring practices in the face of the labour market facing macro-environmental challenges.

For sustained employability and business success, continuous learning and development are therefore crucial for both individuals and organizations.

In this interview, Mr Shehu Zubairu, Senior Learning and Development Manager, spoke with Nairametrics on the changing dynamics in the labour market.

Zubairu is a licensed facilitator and instructional designer who has developed various training programmes for different individuals, positioning them in Tier 1 banks and the top 5 organisations across many sectors.

He shares insights on the changing world of work and advises job seekers to upskill and develop themselves for fulfilling career paths characterized by continuous learning.

The Nigerian labour market is characterized by a high rate of unemployment and underemployment. What do you think contributed to this?

The Nigerian labor market is marked by high levels of unemployment and underemployment. This situation is exacerbated by numerous macroeconomic challenges affecting the various industries within this ecosystem.

Business operations in Nigeria face unique difficulties, including issues of insecurity, unreliable power supply, high inflation, fluctuating foreign exchange rates, and various political and sociocultural challenges. These are significant macroeconomic factors that compel businesses to make crucial decisions to remain viable. One such decision is to downsize or right size in order to manage costs effectively, particularly payroll expenses, which are substantial during these challenging times.

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Additionally, there is a prevalence of unskilled labor in the market. Many workers are not as proficient as required, leading businesses to invest in training. Despite the availability of job vacancies across numerous organizations, finding individuals with the appropriate skill sets has become increasingly difficult.

This issue is intensified by the “Japa” syndrome, where skilled workers emigrate in search of better opportunities, leaving behind a workforce that is often under qualified for available positions.

This creates a significant skills gap, knowledge gap, and competency gap within the country. Moreover, organizations that lack a culture of employee development often opt to operate without expanding their workforce. These factors collectively contribute to the ongoing issues of unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria.

The labor market in Nigeria is divided into white-collar and blue-collar jobs, with blue-collar positions often offering more opportunities. This trend is driven by factors such as cost-effectiveness and impact, particularly in manufacturing, which employs a significant number outside of government roles.

However, there is a disconnect between educational curricula and market demands, leaving many graduates unprepared for the workforce. Consequently, organizations spend substantial amounts on training to bridge this gap, but only a few, financially robust companies can afford these costs.

Additionally, the lack of a learning culture within many organizations leads to a depreciation in worker value over time due to outdated skills and limited experience enhancements. This situation results in employees being used temporarily and replaced once their immediate utility wanes.

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Moreover, there is a general deficiency in both the depth and breadth of skills among workers, which limits their ability to perform diverse and strategic roles effectively. To save costs, job descriptions are increasingly broadened, requiring employees to handle the workload of multiple positions, yet such versatile individuals are rare.

The effectiveness of labor laws also varies, with some industries maintaining high ethical standards while others exploit workers. Issues like lack of succession planning, career development, and inadequate performance management contribute to workers remaining in temporary roles with stagnant compensation despite expanding job responsibilities.

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In all, the Nigerian labor market faces challenges in skill development, employment ethics, and legal enforcement, which affects both the employability of graduates and the operational strategies of organizations.

There is so much emphasis on having the right skills to position one for the right jobs. What are some of the major skills that young graduates lack, especially for corporate organizations?  

The skill sets required for various roles are rapidly evolving due to a dynamic business environment and changing customer behaviors influenced by technology advancements. The days when a specific skill set could remain relevant for 5 to 10 years are gone. In response, businesses now require agility to navigate frequent market disruptions and intense competition, spurred by customers having numerous options.

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However, many employees have struggled to keep up with these changes, especially in adapting their competencies to match new business models and strategies. There is a pressing need for ongoing development in digital skills across all fields, including law, engineering, and accounting, as these skills are essential for modern job functions.

Moreover, there is a growing demand for soft skills such as teamwork, collaboration, emotional intelligence, interpersonal communication, business writing, and business acumen. These skills are vital for effective leadership and can be honed through both formal and informal learning methods.

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Additionally, a deficiency in problem-solving, creativity, and innovation skills significantly impedes businesses’ ability to address challenges and remain competitive.

Irrespective of your role in a particular organization, you must acquire digital skills, which are fundamental to any job, whether you are a lawyer, engineer, or accountant. These skills are critical because they are tools that businesses need.

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Data analytics is also a good skill for young graduates. In general, employees must proactively enhance and expand their skill sets to stay relevant and contribute effectively in an ever-changing business landscape.

Many job seekers fail to secure positions due to outdated skills and lack of visibility in the market. They often do not keep up with the latest trends or skills required by businesses, nor are they active on essential platforms like LinkedIn, where crafting a visible and searchable profile is crucial. Job seekers frequently use obsolete language that fails to reflect current competencies, making them less likely to appear in search results and fit the specific demands of job roles.

Another significant issue is self-devaluation and a lack of confidence, often stemming from being underpaid in previous roles. This lack of confidence can adversely affect their performance in interviews and their overall job search strategy.

Additionally, many are unaware of modern selection processes, such as aptitude tests and competency-based interviews, which differ significantly from traditional methods. Some job seekers are unfamiliar with assessment centers, which use various tools to evaluate candidates thoroughly.

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Moreover, in the era of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated screening, using the correct keywords and phrases becomes crucial to pass initial screenings and interviews. Competency-based interviews require specific answers tailored to real-life scenarios, and rehearsing generic responses can lead to failure.

In summary, job seekers must update their skills, enhance their market visibility, and familiarize themselves with current hiring processes, including AI-driven and scenario-based interviews, to improve their chances of employment success.

We learnt there’s a difference between curriculum vitae (CV) and resume. Can you shed more light on this?

The concepts of CVs and resumes are often confused, yet they serve distinct purposes.

A CV is a comprehensive career biography detailing all of one’s experiences, skills, and educational background. It’s a working document that should be continually updated. In contrast, a resume is a concise, targeted document designed for a specific job role.

It should selectively extract relevant information from your CV to demonstrate the skill set and experience required for the job at hand, making it easy for employers to see your qualifications for the position.

Regarding information relevance, a resume should focus only on skills and experiences pertinent to the job you’re applying for, unlike a CV, which is more comprehensive. Therefore, you should submit a resume tailored to each job application, not a generic CV.

From experience, which sector has been toughest for prospective employees to receive employment?

The toughness of recruitment processes varies by sector and is heavily influenced by an organization’s goals, mission, and vision.

Companies at the top of their industry, particularly those with significant revenue and strong market positioning, often have the most rigorous selection processes.

These organizations aim to attract the best candidates using global standards and competitive selection methods, driven by their high employee value propositions and branding. As such, understanding and preparing for each organization’s unique selection process is crucial for applicants.

Some organizations don’t pay attention to learning and development  to foster career growth. How can business and HR leaders in Nigeria change this narrative?

Many businesses overlook the importance of learning and development (L&D), focusing instead on relationships and loyalty over competence and skills. Such organizations may post substantial profits but lack structured systems for performance management and skills development.

L&D is crucial for up-skilling employees and enhancing competencies that drive performance. Without a proper competency framework, organizations struggle to prioritize learning effectively.

The fast-changing global landscape, characterized by volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions necessitates a shift in this approach.

Even government agencies are now developing competency frameworks. Businesses need to adopt sustainable methods to ensure longevity, regardless of individual employee presence. Global organizations, which often incorporate structures from overseas show that proper performance management and learning and development (L&D) structures are essential for survival.

A significant challenge is demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) of L&D. Many managers fail to communicate the indirect benefits of L&D to the business, even though these benefits are substantial. Leadership’s attitude towards L&D must align with the value it brings. Concerns that trained employees might leave should be balanced against the risks of retaining underdeveloped, underperforming staff.

For businesses to remain competitive and attract the current generation of workers, it is crucial to invest in L&D as a key engagement tool. This not only enhances the organization’s brand and value proposition but also fosters a strong organizational culture.

Nairametrics

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