• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Global skills partnership can fix Nigeria’s brain drain

Global skills partnership can fix Nigeria’s brain drain

It has been said severally and in a multitude of ways that Nigeria is suffering a brain drain, as its youth population actively emigrates to developed economies for better work opportunities.

At the same time, some countries in Europe are seeing rapid decreases in their working-age populations. This poses a problem for employers in these countries as they are facing significant skill shortages needed for the growth and sustainability of their economies.

According to data on population estimates and projections from US Census Bureau International Data Base (IDB), a global demographic product, by 2050 the estimated working age (15-64) population of Nigeria would increase by 120.8 percent while some developed European countries like Spain, Germany, Russia and Italy will reduce by 25.4 percent, 21.0 percent, 18.3 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively.

This means Nigeria and these European countries are at risk of two different employment challenges in the next 30 years. For Nigeria, more people would be needing jobs, while for these European countries; fewer people would be available to work.

In order to solve this problem, a report titled ‘Expanding Legal Migration Pathways from Nigeria to Europe: From Brain Drain to Brain Gain,’ by the World Bank and the Centre for Global Development (CGD), outlines how the Global Skill Partnership model could be used to solve brain drain in Nigeria and shortage of skills in Europe.

What the Global Skill Partnership model is all about

In 2012, the Global Skill Partnership model was first proposed by Michael Clemens, an American development economist. It is a bilateral labour migration model that ensures mobility contributes to development for both countries of origin and destination.

It is also an exchange between equal partners where the country of destination agrees to provide technology and finance to train potential migrants with targeted skills in the country of origin, prior to migration, and gets migrants with the precise skills they need in order to integrate and contribute their best upon arrival.

“It aims to build the global stock of skilled workers, ensuring some remain within the country of origin, thereby combating brain drain and ensures there is a steady stream of investment going into improving both training and systems overall, thereby compensating countries of origin for producing qualified workers for markets abroad,” the report stated.

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How the model works

The model best fits Nigeria due to its large and growing working age population and the country’s inability to absorb its increasing working age population into the labour market.

For example, if Germany (country of destination), which currently suffers from nurses shortages, decides to train semi-skilled labour in Nigeria with a small fraction of the cost in a three-year nursing programme, at the end of the training, some of the trainees could decide to stay in Nigeria to find jobs, while the rest could fill Germany’s labour shortages.

So, the model doesn’t mean taking away from some to give to others.

“If we have well governed infrastructures at local and federal state level that support capacity development, a mutually beneficial global skills development programme would be attractive and gain more traction from potential international investors,” Jennifer Oyelade, director of Transquisite Consulting, an international human resource consultancy, says.

She notes further that investors will now see where they are injecting their resources into, and those resources are catering to a target audience (such as Gen Z) that will build a sustainable future of tomorrow.

Countries the model is tested

Although the model is relatively new, it has been built on many related models that have been tested around the world. According to CDG, a particularly innovative cluster of these policy tools has been built by the German development agency (GIZ).

“GIZ has created a number of bilateral agreements with developing countries to prepare potential migrants—before they leave—to arrive and quickly make a positive contribution to Germany in mid-skill occupations. There have been nurses from Vietnam, hospitality workers from Morocco, construction workers from Kosovo, and many others,” CDG citied.

Another example is the Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which established Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) in 2005. It was created to improve the supply of labour and the alignment of skills with jobs among Pacific Island countries and increase labour mobility between the Pacific and Australia.

And due to its success, a new labour mobility track was created in 2021, which will ensure some graduates are prepared to take up labour mobility opportunities within the region, to Australia, New Zealand and beyond, and access semi-skilled opportunities.

Tech companies in Africa may have been using the model

Since 2014, Andela has been training software developers in Africa and hiring them out to global tech companies. Also, last year Microsoft launched a global skills initiative to train 25 million people worldwide in digital skills.

“Nigeria should take the lead from the private sector, especially on the Tech-space to train the under-skilled so they are well positioned for career opportunities, especially now that remote working has now been welcomed by the Nigerian Market,” Oyelade advises.

How Nigeria can implement the model successfully

The World Bank and CGD recommend that Nigeria and a partner country choose a sector to focus and collaborate on as the first step to implement the model.

The organisations also suggested sectors that the country can focus on with partner countries such as a health care partnership between Nigeria and the UK, a construction partnership between Nigeria and Germany, and an information and communications technology (ICT) partnership with various European states.

Risks involved

There are a number of risks inherent within the design and implementation of the model such as the lobbying of trade unions, a lack of language training, skill mismatch, imbalanced incentives, a lack of stakeholder coordination, security concerns, and a lack of employer interest.

“Interested governments must be aware of these risks and develop plans to mitigate them throughout the design and implementation of the partnership,” the report highlights.