BusinessDay

Nigerians have huge thirst for knowledge, self-improvement – Egunjobi

ASHIM EGUNJOBI is the country manager at elev8 in Nigeria – a technological educational partner and digital skilling academy for businesses and government. In this interview with JOSEPHINE OKOJIE, she speaks about the receptiveness of Nigerians/Nigerian businesses when it comes to upskilling and learning.

Tell us about elev8 and what you do?

Elev8 education is a technology educational partner and digital skilling academy for businesses and governments. Its global academy equips business leaders, teams, and organizations with the skills they need to leverage the potential of innovative technologies and digital trends. Elev8 aims to be a leading global player for mass digital skilling and transformative education initiatives with our purpose being to make a social impact in the countries where we operate. We are part of the YNV Group of companies committed to innovation, dynamic growth, and sustainable investment globally across three sectors: technology, education and real estate. As country manager, I have overall responsibility for the company in Nigeria, its performance as well as building and managing client relationships.

How has the pandemic affected technological innovation and its acceptance in Nigeria?

The Covid-19 related pandemic has acted as the great accelerator for digital and technology adoption and digital transformation of many businesses. This paradigm shift has forced individuals, organisations, and governments alike to learn how to harness technology, new modes of communication, learning, and even providing services. It has shown us how interconnected the world truly is, how we can become more competitive, more efficient when adopting technologies. Think about the emergence of virtual meetings, seminars (now called webinars), conferences, and even concerts or performances. We have even used Zoom, Teams and other collaboration tools to attend weddings or funerals. Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives.

Read also: How digital naira would affect the Nigerian economy

How receptive are Nigerians/Nigerian businesses when it comes to upskilling and learning?

It is important first, to highlight that the global job market faces a reset. The trends we see reshaping the future of work can be summarized as cloud and cloud-based technologies, machine learning and artificial intelligence, big data and data science, and as a service (for instance SaaS, PaaS, Edu aaS, Fin aaS, among others). Needless to say, the implementation of innovative technologies, the hunger to stay relevant and competitive and the need for countries to have a skilled workforce to continue to attract investment, will require us all to adapt, educate and reskill our workforces and talent. The double effects on the Nigerian economy of the Covid-19 related lockdown and the downturn in oil prices, left our country recovering from a recession and businesses struggling to stay alive, relevant and competitive. This is however where the opportunity lies. Investing in upskilling your workforce now will gain an advantage as the economy recovers and GDP growth increases. Nigerians are well known to have a thirst for knowledge and self-improvement. My recommendation for businesses would be to identify the departments most impacted by digital transformation and ensure their workers are upskilled across the relevant technologies.

What courses/ trainings are a must for a small business?

Elev8 offers a variety of training and certification courses to suit the needs of different businesses. We offer technology training that combines internationally certified IT training with critical soft skills and is delivered by best-in-class trainers. We also offer Executive and Leadership Programs that connect technology and business impact and are delivered by world-class experts to help leaders and companies maximize the impact of digital transformation and stay relevant. Finally, our Boot Camps provide fast-track IT training relating to the most in-demand job roles in areas such as Cloud, Cybersecurity, and Data Science through action-learning experiences that include real-world projects and challenges, and leadership workshops.

How supportive do you think the Nigerian government has been towards start-ups, and what advice do you have for them?

The Nigerian government is currently putting together a bill to foster the growth of startups in the country, and most especially in the tech ecosystem. The bill is expected to be launched in August 2021, it is expected to ensure Nigeria’s laws and regulations are friendly, clear, and planned and most importantly that they work for the tech ecosystem which is thriving in the country. We have seen the government both at a Federal and State level, work collaboratively with the startup community, advocating for dialogue and advancement. This is commendable and we continue to be open to collaboration and in building a stronger tech ecosystem together.

Are the technological challenges faced by companies here in Nigeria the same of other countries?

Technological adoption typically comes with challenges, some that are driven by the perception of people of that particular technology and others by challenges specific to a local environment. In Nigeria, and across the continent, we certainly face infrastructural challenges, such as unstable power supply or insufficient fiber optic or broadband accessibility. These challenges often lead to higher implementation costs, lower productivity in a work-from-home environment for instance. What I do see, however, is that the continent continues to overcome even those challenges with ingenious innovations and talented resources.

With the trajectory which elev8 has taken since its inception, do you think Africa is catching up when it comes to technological advancement?

We see that Africa continues to leapfrog in mobile technologies and their business application and is increasingly transitioning to the adoption of cloud technologies. A report elev8 published in conjunction with Business Day Research Unit estimates that by 2023 the Nigerian economy will grow by $8.79bn largely driven by the ICT sector and digital economy. To contribute towards the growing ICT sector, elev8 Nigeria aims to upskill over 1000 IT specialists, business managers, and leaders so that they can comprehend, adapt, and implement these technological advancements and tools in a variety of ways and thrive in the ever-changing digital landscape.

How does elev8 stand out from the other skilling academies?

elev8 was born out of the need for large skilling initiatives in the private and public sector. Being able to train at scale and deliver a personalized learner journey for all participants is a key value proposition we offer. This positions elev8 to successfully help organisations and governments to upskill their talent with a clear view of their return on investment. This is most crucial, especially in a fragile economic post-COVID world, and will help accelerate African businesses in their technology adoption. At elev8 we understand that professionals need to adapt to an ever-changing, volatile, and uncertain world. We help HR professionals and Business Leaders understand and evaluate the most in-demand skills for the future of work.

Any final message to other business owners out there?

The actions we take today will determine our future. With that in mind –companies that strive to be successful must embrace technology, understand how to harness it, and skill their talent in relevant technologies.

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