HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN CHECK YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
In the second quarter of 2018, youth unemployment peaked at 38 percent. Even though there are no recent statistics, experts in the labour sector say the figure has soared year-on-year. The issue has remained a hydra-headed problem of the world, especially for developing countries like Nigeria. With the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has become more dire, as various sectors of the economy and industries stand greatly threatened including the financial and technology industry in Nigeria.
Recently, companies like Andela, the software engineering talent company, laid off 135 of its staff across four locations in Africa including Nigeria, while some financial institutions and commercial banks have had to also take measures like salary cuts to thwart mass layoffs. Another financial institution, Ren Money recently, laid off about 391 sales agents, claiming that a new technology was being introduced to change the company’s mode of operation. In their place, an app was introduced, to take up the assignments the field sales agents used to do.
Hiring during times of COVID-19
However, there seems to be hope, after all, because despite the dire straits that COVID-19 has put many global industries, futuristic IT companies say they can still hire at an unending pace, despite the effects of the pandemic. For instance, multinational IT support and professional services company, Tek Experts recently said it has no intention of laying off any staff because it foresaw the future of work and aligned itself to the process.
With operations in seven countries, including Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Vietnam, USA and Rwanda, the company said its target is to be a major employer of labour and harbinger of a new digital dispensation. Tek Experts provides technical support and professional services for some of the world’s largest IT companies. The company has over 7,000 employees across seven global offices, but says it desires to increase staff strength because with more people working from home during this period, tech support, the service it provides, has never been more sought after. Speaking about the ramp up and future plans for the company, Country Manager for Tek Experts Nigeria, Lars Johannisson, says that the company’s growth is unprecedented and unlike any other in today’s Nigerian tech industry.
“We are growing at an exponential rate and this comes on the heels of the need to grow our operations to meet the teeming demands of our global IT clients. “Nigeria has a wealth of amazing young talent and we are truly passionate about identifying those talented individuals, training a huge number of them to be IT experts so they can compete successfully in the future of work. We also have a unique opportunity to reduce the unemployment rate of youths in the country.
“To accommodate this increasing workforce and new service lines, the company recently moved into a brand-new office building called Everty One, at Oniru, Victoria Island. It is a state-of-the-art building which will serve as our main headquarters. The purchase of this building and this ramp up is also in fulfillment of the promises our founder, Yaniv Natan made at the April 2018 launch event of the company in Nigeria.
He said, then, that we would hire 300 staff in our first year of operations and gradually ramp up to 2,000 by the second year of operations. We have come into Nigeria to stay and do good business and we are committed to making this happen by nurturing IT talent in Nigerian youth thereby growing the IT industry and reducing unemployment.” The company began operations in Nigeria in April 2018, promising to employ 300 staff by the end of its first year and 2,000 staff by the end of its second year. As at May 2020, Tek Experts says it has employed 1,350 staff and is still up scaling its business and plans to increase its staff strength to 2,000 people by the end of 2020. Upon employment, the organisation trains its staff for six weeks, using Microsoft-approved curricula and training programs.
Diversity and inclusion
Johannisson also told Hi-Tech that Tek Experts is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion not just in Nigeria but in the global IT industry, drawing attention to a white paper it produced last year, themed, ‘Achieving Gender Balance: Views from Across the IT Industry’. In the whitepaper, the company highlighted a wide range of issues identified by women in the Nigerian IT industry. These issues range from persistent pay gap, lack of career growth opportunities for women, recruitment bias, general lack of inclusion and diversity in the IT industry amongst many others.
The survey, completed by over 2,000 women worldwide, was conducted in five countries including Bulgaria, Nigeria, Costa Rica, USA and Vietnam. The white paper also proposed actionable solutions to the problems raised by women in IT and has called on the IT industry to collaborate in the achievement of these objectives. At the launch of the whitepaper, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Naama Saar said, “At Tek Experts, we are deeply passionate about inclusion and diversity in the workplace and we’ve worked tirelessly to ensure we are a reflection of what we preach. We have implemented recruitment policies to achieve gender balance. So, we not only talk the talk; we also walk the walk. Our global leadership team is almost entirely composed of women who have proven through their amazing track record in the industry that they deserve a seat at the table.”
Expanding business frontiers
Johannisson said that while other companies are laying off staff due to impacts of COVID-19 Tek Experts, part of multinational group of companies called YNV Group is expanding businesses because it realised early enough that businesses should be tailored in a way that staff should be a strength and not a burden even at a time like this. “YNV Group operates in sectors including tech, education and real estate, and has been expanding its portfolio over the past few years to include Everty, a global real estate business and owners of the Everty One building located in Victoria Island; and elev8, a global IT training and education company, which is due to open a new academy in Nigeria this summer”.