As business owners continue to grapple with the emerging realities in the nation's economy, the search for a workforce whose productivity will match those obtained in other developed countries of the world has continued to be a preoccupation of economic affairs commentators like those who attended the maiden edition of iQube seminar in Lagos, report Festus Akanbi and Chinazor Megbolu
There is no doubt that some of the major challenges to business and economy in Nigeria today revolve round human resources and how to effectively deploy the limited resources available.
It is in realisation of this fundamental challenge that operators in the various sectors of the nation's economy have continued to search for ways out. This is reflected in the series of conferences, seminars, symposia and business clinics held for most part of the year. One of such was the iQube seminar held in Lagos a fortnight ago where an array of corporate leaders and other members of the organised private sector gathered to dissect the nation's economy as well as offer tips on how to key into the global best practice.
The iQube seminar, tagged "Back to the Future", which attracted participants across different sectors had MDs/CEOs, executives, managers, mid and lower level staff, and entrepreneurs in attendance. They were inspired and given insights on innovative and practical ways of discharging their duties to ensure maximum impact from the diverse range of topics that were treated during the event.
In his presentation, Chief Executive, Gemstone Group Mr. Fela Durotoye, who spoke on "Value Systems in the Market Place", decried the level of lack and want in the country. He said poverty is not only a product of bad governance but also bad citizenship.
The leaders and citizens, according to him, choose the present future through their actions in the past. He stated that the future is not what lies ahead but within. "The future is that which has been left undone, dream that has been dreamt without taking steps to fulfill, plans that have been drafted without implementation," he said, adding that the future is dependent on the past and the aggregate of past activities determine future outcomes. "We can therefore not perform any magic in the future if the past is not properly laid," he said.
He stated that the ability of individuals to solve the existing problems in the society would determine their resistance to poverty. In solving these problems, he said, the values within the society would be the guiding principle.
"By re-enacting the values that frown at corrupt members of the society, care for fellow citizens, encourage creativity and innovation, protects intellectual properties, appropriation of justice and respect for time among others, we will be empowered to overcome poverty," he said.
Another speaker, Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company Mr. Bismark Rewane highlighted the past trends of financial and economic indicators and their implications to the future of the nation. During his presentation tagged "Designing Nigeria's future," he decried the rate at which the nation amass debt whose impact doesn't have any effect on the human capital index and has not translated into better standards of living for the teeming populace. He encouraged the nation to borrow a leaf from the past when various indices were favourable.
He also emphasised that the nation should move towards being less dependent on natural wealth such as oil to produce wealth such as agriculture, processing and manufacturing.
Leading Large Volunteers
The Convener of the Experience, Pastor Paul Adefarasin, who spoke on "how to lead a large volunteer workforce to achieve excellence" said that vision is the difference between where we are and where we want to be. Vision, according to him, is crucial to the sustenance of life of a business or nation. In his words, "vision arouses the best competences, set of responsibilities and passion of everybody in the resource team." He said adding excellence to vision would bring out the best in any endeavour. He therefore stressed the need to rediscover the vision we were created for as individuals and as a nation because it in lies our future.
The convener of iQube and managing partner of Ciuci Consulting, Mr. Chukwuka Monye, centered his presentation on education and productivity. He said the impact of education on productivity cuts across every facet of life, businesses and industry. Monye said the onus is on us, as individuals and organisations, to close the gaps in our education sector and improve productivity. He said that while we hope that the government fixes our schools on a national level, we owe ourselves the responsibility of making our businesses more productive. He concluded that we should have a changed mind-set because Nigeria is our country and that only Nigerians can fix Nigeria through a planned and practical approach.
In her contribution, Chief Executive Officer The Chair Centre Group, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, drew contrast between best practices and Nigeria practices, explaining that best practices are so regardless of the country in which it is practised. She urged Nigerians to realise the fact that the world is inter-connected and that Nigerians cannot afford to play by a different set of rules.
According to her, best practice is best practices and that there is nothing like Nigerian practices. She said we as Nigerians need to define and defend who we are, and that we should stop helping the foreign media to define us wrongly.
Mrs. Awosika emphasised the fact that there are many Nigerians who follow best practices but the voices of Nigerians who do things differently had overshadowed those that consistently follow best practices. She also stressed the need to build on the nation's strengths rather than focus on its weakness in order to be able to compete in a global world. She defined Nigerian practices as the practice engaging in globally unacceptable acts by certain individuals and corporate entities within the country. During the course of the presentation she emphasized that incorporating best practices into Nigerian businesses will help build strong and successful businesses that can rival global brands. In conclusion she stated that Nigeria has the potential and capacity to have a positive impact on the world at large provided we develop our human capital and incorporate the right value system in our dealings.
Speaking on the concept of iQube, Monye said the idea was born from the need for a knowledge-sharing platform to share insights in the business environment, educate business owners on innovative and creative solutions and inspire people to create novel solutions to their business issues. The maiden event, which was tagged "Back to the Future" focused on drawing insights from the past while adopting an innovative approach to proffer practical solutions that will effectively position the country to tackle business issues.
Quoting a document from the National Bureau of Statistics, Ciuci Consulting said the employment data for the last 5 years shows that the rate of the new entrants into the labour market has not been uniform. According to him, the rate further showed that it had been increasing from 2007 to 2009 but declined significantly from 2009 to 2010 and later picked up from 2010 to 2011.
"Over these five years, the average number of new entrants to the active labour market reached approximately 1.8 million people per year. The variation and in particular, the rise of new entrants to the labour market since 2007 can be credited to several reasons, "it said.
Continuing, the reasons were attributed to the fact that the country has added 15 new universities, nine polytechnics and nine colleges of education since 2006. Another factor is that over 1.37 million students were enrolled in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in 2006 and another 1.98 million were enrolled in 2007.
According to the report, "given that most courses are completed in four or five years, it has projected that many of these 3.2 million students that enrolled in 2006 and 2007 will enter the labour force in 2010/2011".
The Ciuci survey suggested that the way out of this unemployment issue is for the government to identify brilliant minds in diverse disciplines, qualifications and empower them to access study opportunities either under expatriates within the country or send them overseas on training so as to be able acquire technical competencies.
"This would provide opportunities in the future for knowledge transfer to employable citizenry upon completion of such programmes. This will increase the knowledge and skills of the employable citizens and set the country to a path towards sustainable development, "the survey said. The event, which was held at the Lagos City Hall, Lagos Island, brought together seasoned and accomplished speakers which include Pastor Paul Adefarasin, the Senior Pastor of House on the Rock and the convener of the Experience, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, CEO, The Chair Centre Group, Mr. Fela Durotoye, CEO, The GEMSTONE Group, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivatives Ltd and Mr. Chukwuka Monye, the Visioner and Convener of iQube.