• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigerian tech firms combine roles to survive talent shortage

Empowering African Tech Talent: Jumia’s commitment to local innovation

Employees in many Nigerian tech firms have started taking additional roles as firms adopt several measures to survive the talent shortage in the industry.

Many stakeholders have decried the growing shortage of tech talent due to the mass emigration of Nigerian professionals, popularly known as ‘japa’ in local parlance.

The ‘Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed’ report released by SAP Africa shows that about 80 percent of Nigerian companies expect to experience a technology skills gap this year as more employees are seeking greener pastures in developed nations.

Industry experts who spoke with BusinessDay said most Nigerian tech companies have started assigning more roles to existing employees and employing workers that can handle more than one position as a means to replace talents who left the company and cope with the shortage.

Franklyn Ezeji, CEO of TDS Hitech Solutions Limited, said the ‘japa’ wave is not relenting due to the current realities, adding that companies are devising strategic measures to adapt.

“I think it’s something that is going to continue and in the wake of it, you see a lot of people leaving, especially skilled workforce and people that have competencies in one area or the other, especially tech companies,” Ezeji said.

“It is something that has come to stay and this is what we do here. We have a particular role; our marketing person in brand and communication has now added vendor alliance person roles to her job and this is because the person left. When the technical person left, we also got somebody that could do sales, technical and other stuff. It’s the way to go. We don’t have a choice though it comes with its own attending risk,” he added.

According to Ezeji, applicants with multiple skills who can cover other areas when the need arises now have higher chances of getting employed in some tech companies.

He said: “When most tech companies now employ people, we want to look at what other areas that could come as an advantage or other values they can bring other than the role you are employing them for.

“In the long run, you will save cost and have an existing workforce that in the event that a person leaves, you ask to see if they can add up another role and you can increase the salary marginally while also saving cost.”

According to a report by Korn Ferry, a management consulting company, there will be as many as 85 million unfilled tech roles by 2030, translating to over $8 trillion in lost revenue annually across the globe.

Ayodeji Olaofe, CEO of Reeltech Business Solutions, said the ‘japa’ wave has really impacted the tech sector negatively and companies have also adjusted to the situation.

He said: “I’m seated here in the company not just as the CEO but I’m the head of business and also the technical lead. We are having plans for expansion where we train young talents so that at any point in time, we will have people to take up any position when others leave.

“We have built our company, for instance, to be a learning ground; we will always have young promising talents hungry for growth. So, while the ones that have acquired skills want to move forward, new shoots are sprouted.”

Risk of assigning multiple roles to one employee

Ezeji said giving an employee more than one role is risky.

“The risk is that even those people you are putting the roles on could leave, and once they do, it becomes a disaster. On one hand, you are saving cost and replacing talent but on the other hand, you are dealing with risk because that person too is likely to leave. If you incubate more than one role in one person and the person leaves, it becomes a bigger problem,” he said.

Read also: How Nigeria can address rising talent shortage

He added that organisations giving multiple roles must also find a way to keep the employees at the very best zone while sourcing for fresh graduates and putting up trainee programmes so they can take over when there is a need for replacement.

Ezeji said some employees are also reaching an agreement with their skilled talents to work remotely for them when they leave the company until capable hands are employed for replacement.

He said: “Another thing we are doing is when these people leave, especially those that have high skills, we sort of have arrangements with them. Like you are leaving for Canada or wherever but you can still work with us virtually. Work-from-home and the internet are really helping our businesses where those who left can still work with you pending when you grow the existing staff into the new role or get someone to replace them.

“No matter how you look at it, it is something that has come to stay and I think as the future unfolds, there should be other ways to deal with this.”