Is Africa the new global talent pool?
Though experts have different views about the causes that drove attrition during the pandemic period, employee experience has surfaced as one of the major parameters considered by job seekers and employees.
While the employers are struggling hard to cope with the talent shortage by rethinking over their policies around the workforce, tables seem to have turned leading to the Great Power Shift.
With such intensifying effects of attrition over the last two years, a study revealed that some of the major economies of the world are showing high prospects of hiring in the coming months. According to the study conducted by the Manpower Group, the strongest hiring prospects are reported in the U.S. (+25%) followed by Taiwan (+24%) and Australia (+17%), with the weakest in Argentina (+1%), Panama (+1%), South Africa (+1%) and Hong Kong(+0%).
In fact, the same study found that the companies failing to offer flexibility are struggling the most with talent shortages (74%). Commenting on this, Parul Jain, Practice Director of Everest Group said, “The hybrid model is emerging as the preferred model for the future; firms need to take a position and build their future operating model strategy. The ongoing talent war is further complicating the operating model decision as employees are not keen to return to offices.”
According to Parul, the problem is multi-fold and thus, the leaders need to divide it into three buckets to reach the hiring and retention goals. “While thinking about a return to work, organisations need to solve for multiple “hows” associated with new ways of working. These can be categorised under three broad buckets – leadership and governance models, operating models (e.g., real estate requirements, collaboration tools, employee safety mechanisms), and talent models (e.g., productivity, employee engagement, performance metrics, career growth),” she noted.
Africa - the potential player
However, Africa being a market that is not sufficiently penetrated to reach the state of employment saturation, is showing a silver lining. A report published by the World Bank states that Africa’s working-age population is expected to grow by 450 million people, or close to 70%, by 2035. Opining on this, Parul noted that Africa possesses the potential to fill up the talent gap. However, citing the economic structure, she is of the view that geography calls for investments.
Parul further added, “Also, it is important to note that Africa as a whole is an extremely diverse continent and has multiple locations with varying maturity levels. For example, South Africa and Egypt have been the most mature African locations for global delivery of IT services. Nigeria and Kenya are next in line with blooming tech ecosystems, mainly supporting regional and domestic delivery. Ghana has also been attracting tech companies, given its more conducive business environment.”
Digital upskilling of the African workforce
With the growing demand for talent in the IT and tech sectors of the continent, the iron seems hot enough to be struck with the hammer of digital skills to give the job market the desired shape. The world economic forum found that by 2030 some level of digital skills will be required for 50-55% of jobs in Kenya, 35-45% in Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Rwanda, and 20-25% in Mozambique. Adding to this, Parul said that some of the global giants have already spotted the region and started investing in it. She noted:
- Microsoft invested $100 million to open a technology development centre with sites in Kenya and Nigeria in 2018.
- In 2019, Google had set up its first Africa AI lab in Ghana and has been expanding since. Microsoft and Huawei are other tech giants that have expanded their operations in Ghana, targeting software developers. More recently, Twitter Dorsey announced setting up a regional HQ in Ghana in April 2021 and just today (April 2022) Google announced setting up their product development centre in Kenya.
- Vodafone created Centres of Excellence in Egypt (Cairo and Alexandria) to develop robotics, IoT, and AI-based capabilities.
However, in addition to the investments in digital skills, economic upliftment of the continent is also crucial in order to leverage most of the young job-seeking population which is majorly informal to date. The International Labour Organization (ILO) data states that in certain regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, 85% of the workers are informal with the same standing at 83% across the whole continent.
Quoting ILO, “Africa’s population is rising the fastest. The pressure to provide decent work opportunities for new labour market entrants will be particularly acute in Africa.”