FITC, an innovation-led and technology-driven knowledge institution which provides learning, advisory services, and policy advocacy to the Nigerian financial service sector and others, has launched the Future of Work Academy (FOWA) to prepare youths for the 21st century workplace.
FOWA was unveiled at the highly impactful Future of Work roundtable event organised by FITC themed ‘Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: Equipping Youths for the Jobs of the Future’
Accelerated by the pandemic, the future of work is being shaped by technology, digital transformation, artificial intelligence, and connectivity driving new talent models and necessitating the expansion of new skills.
In her welcome address, Chizor Malize, managing director and CEO of FITC, emphasized the critical role of the academy in equipping young people with relevant 21st-century workplace skills.-
She noted that the future of work is evolving at an unprecedented pace, with rapid advances in technology and automation necessitating the need to prepare the next generation for the jobs of tomorrow, by improving their employability levels and equipping them to thrive in a dynamic and ever-changing work environment.
“The FITC Future of Work Academy is an innovative initiative that is designed to equip the African Youth with relevant workplace skills while building a pipeline of talents for the Nigerian Financial services Sector, a critical sector to the nation’s economy,” she said.
Malize underscored FITC’s crucial role in building bridges between the highly creative African youth and organizations seeking appropriate talents to fill their workforce needs.
Through FOWA, FITC would initiate employment opportunities through the provision of internships and job placements, making the institution a notable catalyst for development in the region.
Reputed for knowledge innovation, FITC introduces Future of Work Academy (FOWA) which comprises seven schools namely the School of Data Analytics, School of Data Science, School of Cyber Security, School of Coding, School of Graphic Design, School of Digital Marketing, and School of Product Design and Management.
Aisha Ahmad, deputy governor, Financial System Stability, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and chairman of the FITC Board emphasized the profound impact of technology globally.
She noted that post the Covid-19 pandemic, technology is at the forefront of transforming the way we live, work, and conduct business with direct impact on work and the workplace, adding that artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, are changing work and propelling a demand for unique digital innovation, and tech skills.
“FITC’s FOWA initiative recognizes the need to adapt to these shifting trends and help individuals and organizations position themselves to remain relevant in the emerging future” emphasized Ahmad.
She further stressed that the Nigerian banking sector which is one of the most prolific in the world ranking 6th globally in terms of value of electronic transactions, is currently experiencing a growing war for talent due to the increasing demand for individuals with specific technology skills globally.
She commended the management of FITC for the timely initiative which she said will no doubt help to build the critical skills required for the future of work in Africa and beyond, in critical areas such as cybersecurity, data science, data analytics, digital marketing, coding, product design and more.
In his keynote address, Adebisi Shonubi, deputy governor of operations, CBN said, “the only certainty about the future is its uncertainty and as such, the demand for soft skills will continue to increase alongside the demand for dynamic technical skills.”
He stressed that the ability to work confidently with technology will be critical, as human interaction will continue to evolve and technical skills will remain in high demand.
He also charged young people to focus on striking a balance between technical and soft skills, as these skills will be essential in navigating the rapidly evolving landscape of the future of work.
He pointed out that while digital technology is shaping our environment, young people should also focus on developing cognitive skills such as problem-solving skills, agile and logical thinking skills, and an understanding of biases in datasets and technological systems.
Shonubi further urged youths to take charge of their personal growth and development by honing self-leadership skills, cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset by setting goals, strategies, and having the passion to sell themselves.
“Developing soft skills is equally important in differentiating oneself from others who possess similar technical competencies. Building a strong foundation of self-awareness and communication skills is vital to succeeding in the digital age” he reiterated.
Also, Olusola Olodude, head of the fraud management unit at NIBSS, said organisations on their part need to strike a balance between technical and soft skills by implementing a comprehensive competency framework and providing training for staff in both areas.
He suggested cross-functional team engagement and partnering with organisations like FITC for skills development and collaboration.
Motunrayo Ajayi, head HC projects & digital transformation, Sterling Bank, speaking at the roundtable identified the four critical digital skills required for the future of work: digital literacy, data literacy, technical skills, and digital threat awareness.
She urged organizations to embrace digitalization and equip their workforce with the necessary skills to provide excellent service to customers.
The ace banker also accentuated the importance of assessing employee readiness and the need to relearn to stay relevant for the future of work. She suggested implementing reverse mentoring, where younger employees mentor older ones.
“We must equip our workforce with digital skills to get familiar and comfortable with the human-machine collaboration that has become imminent. We must learn, unlearn, and relearn new skills to thrive and be relevant in the future.” Mojisola Olawepo, senior technology strategy lead at Microsoft, highlighted that the future of work will be heavily influenced by digital technologies and data.
She encouraged young people to invest in tech skills in order to remain competitive and relevant in the job market. Olawepo emphasized that technology skills are not limited to a specific group of people, and everyone can apply them to their current or desired profession.
Additionally, she urged organizations to invest in employee skills and partner with organizations on capacity development such as FITC FOWA to equip their staff with relevant tech skills.
Echoing Olawepo’s sentiments, Uzoma Dozie, founder and CEO of Sparkle, accentuated the importance of investing in talents.
He called for organizations to invest in digital leadership and teach their employees how to effectively use new systems to benefit their organization.
In her presentation, Firuzi Kotwal, founder/CEO of PROTEQme, addressed the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry and encouraged females of all ages to consider a career in cybersecurity.
Kotwal noted that the industry is growing at a massive pace, with a projected $534 billion growth by 2032, presenting a huge career opportunity for talents.
“There is a significant talent gap, and the demand vastly outnumbers the supply of cybersecurity professionals as the need for talented staff rises,” Kotwal said.
Adewale Obadare, co-founder of Digital Encode Limited, highlighted the global shortage of at least 4.7 million cybersecurity professionals as reported by Independent Security Evaluators (ISE), a Consortium for Cybersecurity Consultants.
He emphasized the growing need for cybersecurity professionals to address the increasing threats to organizations’ data and information.
In addressing the importance of an inclusive digital economy, Jude Anietie, senior manager of information security at MTN Nigeria, suggested that the Nigerian government should facilitate access to affordable hardware, data resources, and technology services in rural areas to ensure that everyone is connected and empowered.
Anietie reiterated the need to build digital ecosystems, intensify investments, and leave no one offline.
“Connect people everywhere, empower communities, build digital ecosystems, and intensify investments, we should be committed to leaving no one offline” he stressed.