BusinessDay

Tek Experts doubles down on tech talents amid migration wave

Tek Experts, a global provider of tech support services, said it is doubling down its investment in nurturing talents from non-tech backgrounds with the goal of filling the widening local talent gaps in Nigeria and Africa. Part of its growth plans is to double the size of its operation in Nigeria and open a new site.

The company is however facing intense competition from a rising talent migration and could risk losing many of its nurtured talents. A survey by the BBC in June found that 52 percent of young people in Africa are likely to emigrate in the next few years.

Prominent on the list of overseas migrants are tech talents. One report noted that between 2014 and 2021, 474 Nigerian tech talents moved to the UK via the UK government’s Tech Talent Visa, a visa that allows these persons to work in the country’s digital technology sector. Experts say the number is likely to double in 2022 with many banks already grappling with the fallout of near-empty digital banking departments. Local tech companies are also finding it difficult to retain their talents as most of the old recruits relocate abroad.

Another study by the South African Ichikowitz Family Foundation showed that 95 percent of Nigerians believe that the country is moving in the wrong direction.

The mass migration of highly skilled individuals has largely been attributed to a lack of employment opportunities which Tek Experts says it is determined to change.

Tek Experts, which began its operations in Nigeria in 2018, kicked off business with 200 software engineers and has since grown the number to nearly highly skilled employees providing round-the-clock services and support to its global clients.

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“Tek Experts is committed to developing our locally sourced employees to help them continue to learn and grow. Also, we’re focused on nurturing talent from non-traditional tech backgrounds,” Olugbolahan Olusanya, Country Manager of Tek Experts Nigeria said. “This is in line with our goal to support the growth of the local economy and promote Nigeria as a tech outsourcing destination globally. We believe that by developing Nigerian talent we can help global organisations fill their tech talent gaps to deliver exceptional results and boost loyalty.”

Nigeria and many countries in Africa have seen significant growth in the number of developers. The number of software engineers in Africa rose to 716,000 in 2021, a 3.8 percent growth from the 700,000 total population in 2020, according to a Google report. Nigeria ranks third on the continent with 89,000 developers but that figure is small considering the number of businesses that now have needs for their service. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many businesses to embrace digitalization, hence the rise in demand for tech talents.

As demand for tech talents rises, talent recruiters are turning to frontier markets in Africa to fill up global supply gaps. Ordinarily, Nigeria’s 200 million population makes it a magnet for the outsourcing market and the country also churns out 600,000 university graduates on an annual basis. But lapses in the education system with constant disruption in timetable have not only affected the quality of graduates but also made the system unreliable for recruiters.

Fortunately, the declining education fortunes have not dampened the appetite of global tech companies for Nigerian developers. Companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Google are still actively sourcing talents from the country.

Tek Experts highlights different factors as responsible for Africa being the ideal market for IT outsourcing. One of these is the large population of young people. Nigeria, for example, has over 100 million people between the ages of 15 and 35. The majority of young people are eager to learn and fuel the country’s digital growth.

There is also the development of physical and ICT infrastructure, as well as rising levels of connectivity. Nigeria’s broadband penetration rose to 44.6 percent in August representing a slight increase month-on-month from 44.49 percent in July. The country’s internet speed is still lagging behind African peers such as South Africa, Mali, Morocco, Cameroon, Tunisia, Egypt, and Mozambique. However, with the country joining the list of 5G nations in Africa, it is expected that more infrastructure is deployed by telecom operators to improve the speed.

Tek Experts is also encouraged by an increased flow of VC-backed tech entrepreneurs who solve problems on a regional and global scale as well as more and more digital consumers entering the African market along with a growing demand for customer experience service providers.

To retain its talents, Tek Experts says it has a proactive approach to career growth in which it provides clear learning paths and career journeys for employees to follow and achieve their goals.

“We employ 6,000 people across 10 different countries, and we have a strong understanding of what it takes to source and develop leading talent in Nigeria and around the world,” Olusanya said. “Drawing on our experience and combining the strength of Tek Experts, elev8, and our talent management platform, Talentwize, YNV Group has created YNV Tech Talent. YNV Tech Talent is a powerful bridge to the digital skills gap at scale.”

The company has collaborated with Microsoft since 2019 to empower and support women in the IT industry through the Microsoft Leap Apprenticeship Program in Nigeria and Rwanda. The program continues to run in 2022 across Tek Experts locations in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Bulgaria. It also partnered with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund on various initiatives to tackle unemployment problems.

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