Nigeria’s wobbling economy linked to poor human capital development

Enormous economic potential that Nigeria has stands the risk of remaining underutilised, while growth may be elusive, if the nation’s main assets, which are its human resources continue to grapple with poor training and development, writes MESHACK IDEHEN.

In recent times, worries have been expressed in certain quarters and by some interest groups concerning the perennial loss of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities by Nigerians to nationals of other nations that come into the country to find their fortune.

With most of the accusing fingers being pointed from groups like the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the Trade Union Congress, TUC and the Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association, CCESSA, the anxiety recently expressed by indigenous real sector operators over the same issue which links poor human capital development in Nigeria to the wobbling state of the nation’s economy.

Experts however are of a different opinion. Those who spoke with National Mirror said in the final analysis, that it was Nigeria’s poor attitude towards human capital development which has led to dearth of effective manpower, skills and professionalism that is largely responsible for the job loss and other issues that ails the nation’s economy.

Be that as it may, others contend that the country’s misfortune, as far as poor human capital development is concerned, was not limited to loss of jobs or opportunities to foreigners alone, noting that almost all areas of the economy of the country was taking huge losses and standing on shaky foundation, due to the absence of quality human capital development initiatives that can sustainably drive the economy in the longer term.

Former President of the Nigeria Institute of Training and Development, (NITAD), Barrister. Femi Kolajo told our correspondent that lack of highly technical areas like construction, oil and gas, telecommunications, manufacturing and solid mineral extraction may be responsible for job loss by locals to foreigners.

He explained that no business organisation ordinarily want to incur unnecessary expenditure like the type borne by many companies that are compelled to import expert workers from far and wide when skills are not locally available.

Insisting that the repeated allegations of abuse of expatriate quota by management of middle and large sized local and indigenous companies was mainly due to the absence of skilled, highly trained and professional local manpower, Kolajo maintained it was time the Federal Government partner with relevant stakeholders to invest heavily in indigenous human resource capacities through the provision of world class training and retraining opportunities for workers in both private and public sectors of the economy.

Business Analyst and Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, (ICAN), Mr. Emeka Ifezulike, on his part, said the place of a developed human capital in the economic growth and sustainability of any nation have never been in doubt He pointed out that access to constant training opportunities for the nation’s economic drivers were hugely limited when compared to their foreign counterparts, wondering at the same time, how the country could possibly achieve its objectives, including the vision 20 20 20,when the human assets that will drive those objectives were not being exposed to effective and regular trainings.

According to Ifezulike, “What is missing in Nigeria’s quest for economic boom is the lack of production of core professionals and skillful workers which is the trained human element.  is what is missing in Nigeria’s economic quest. There is also poor execution of developmental plans; declining welfare and social instability in the country which have all contributed to keep economic progress at an unappreciable level.

“Furthermore, the near total neglect of human resource development by the people who should ordinarily be driving it forward has also played a major role in the country’s lack of sustainable progress economically”, Ifezulike noted.

The ICAN fellow maintained that a well-trained and developed human resource base holds the key to the actualisation of Nigeria’s, nay Africa’s economic goals. A developed human resource based will also help the country consolidate its leadership role on the continent, he added. On his part, the President and Chairman of Council of Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM),Mr. Victor Famuyibo, said human resource professionals in the public and private sectors must come together to fashion ways of achieving economic development purposes through the human resource angle.

Explaining that it is possible for Nigeria to be among the top 20 largest economies in the world, and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena within a short period of time, the CIPM president said the role of manpower development through constant training must be highlighted with a view towards setting agenda on ways to execute the vision that can grow and sustain the country’s economy through the human capital development.

“I believe Nigeria can achieve its dream of reversing job loss to other country’s nationals, and improve on economic growth and stability through human resource and manpower development. The Federal Government and other relevant key sectors should key into this idea and see how they could be harnessed.

As an institute, we are already bringing to government value proposition to achieve the vision and the focus is on human capital development”, Famuyibo said. Saying Nigeria is globally recognised as the biggest economy in Africa due to its having considerable resource endowment and coastal location with huge potential for growth, the Vice Chairman of Broron Group, Mr. Henry Ojogho, said the potential of the country has not been fully realised due to poor human resource execution and development plans.

Ojogho, whose company recently partnered to bring some Korean construction experts into the country for the setting up of a construction company, said real economic development in Nigeria may continue to be a mirage unless the country focuses on policies capable of developing human capital.

According to him, “Investment in human capital development remains the fastest way of achieving increased productivity within the private and public sector of the economy. Unfortunately, human capital had suffered a lot in Nigeria due to policy misplacement, policy negligence but particularly policy implementation.

“Capacity building is rated low in Nigeria. The approach to building capacity is not systematic; instead, it is done on Adhoc basis. Although human capital development and capacity building is an expensive venture it remains the most reliable way for ensuring high economic yield in any business environment”, he added.

Revenue loss to government will continue, said Managing Director of Context Consult, Mr. Abiola Popoola, unless government pays attention to training and development of employees in federal ministries and parastatals. He said the challenges of developing human capital in Nigeria with a global comparability and competitiveness remains far from appreciable levels despite very feeble attempts by successive governments.

Making clear that his country’s (South Korea) economic development is traceable to huge investments made in human resource development, the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Jong-hyun Choi, told journalists recently that the Nigeria government should channel investment in human resource development, which is one of the secrets of South Korea’s remarkable success story.

He expressed his country optimism towards helping Nigeria to address the problem of skill acquisition, saying vocational training should form part of Nigerian government effort at addressing skill acquisition problem and human capital development, and that by so doing more and more Nigerian people can be empowered to seek employment and create opportunities for themselves and others.

Taken together, and considering that not much seem to have been achieved despite the endless opportunities that abounds in the country, combining manpower development with the production of technically and vocationally minded younger generation, said the Director General of the Industrial Training Fund,(ITF),Professor Longmas Sambo Wapmuk, will go a long way to grow and stabilize the nation’s economy.

Making reference to countries like Brazil, China, India and the Philippines that have made great investment in human capital developments with visible gains to show for it, the ITF DG said Nigeria can follow those examples and thereby making the economy to stand on a surer footing. Wapmuk opined that no country can go far with developing with its development agenda without first developing its own people, saying at the end of the day that it is the people that will in turn move on to develop the country and its economy.

Lamenting poor human capital development in Nigeria, Economist, Mr. Mustapha Ajibola, said Nigeria with the with the largest population in Africa is well endowed with natural resources and a bulky wealth of human capital which give it an edge over all other Third World countries. Citing agricultural, mineral and crude oil resources and a large emerging market that trigger production of commodities and also providing large workforce, Ajibola said the combined net effect of these is economic development through an increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and social stability.

However, the manpower development Index which measures the average achievement of a country in terms of the welfare and quality of life of people, according to him, still lag far behind economic and social progress required to impact the well being of average Nigerian, despite these vast resources.

“Development of manpower should always be the top priority”, he said, “ the educational and continuous training infrastructure must be improved to underpin support for the creative jobs that will be more or less the sole basis for employment, economic growth and wealth creation.

Speaking on the benefits of training and manpower development on the economy the Country Managing Director of Dale Carnegie Training, Mr. Patrick Nwakogo, said research by the institute has show that over 70 per cent of people in the workplace are not fully engaged in their work.

What this means, according to him, is that most workers, due to lack of constant training and retraining are not emotionally and psychologically invested in their jobs, a situation which when put together is an unquantifiable large amount of money on an annual basis. Manpower development through training interventions will help companies and organizations reduce the percentage of their employees that are disengaged or only partially engaged at work.

The impact on the economy, Nwakogo said, can be massive when you consider the fact that companies with engaged employees outperform others by up to 202 per cent. “One can only imagine the increase in productivity levels in companies and the multiplier effects on the country’s economy once expertise and developed manpower is brought in. It goes far more than just contributing in boosting productivity levels in companies, towards extension the GDP of the country”, he added.

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