Tackling challenges of inadequate Skilled workforce in Nigeria

—The Role of Sector Skills Councils

Late Sir Johnnny Ogbuene

The challenges of inadequate skilled workforce to drive Nigeria’s socio-economic development will soon be a thing of the past if the current plans to establish Sector Skills Councils in the key sectors of the Nigerian economy come to fruition. The Industrial Training Fund (lTF) is partnering with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to mobilize employers from identifiable critical sectors of the economy for the purpose of floating functional Sector

Skills Councils which will help to create a large pool of quality skilled manpower to drive the critical sectors. This is based on the understanding that one of the major challenges of the Nigeria economy, is tackling the huge unemployment rate. Huge skills gap and skills mismatch between the demands for skills by enterprise (employers of labor) and supply of skills by education institutions constitute a major factor in Nigeria’s high unemployment rate. This has led to the present situation where many graduates are said to be “unemployable”.

The avoidable consequence is that Nigeria enterprises have to invest hugely in retraining new hires for relevant skills, competence and productivity. Complaint is that educational institutions train without recourse to Labour Market Information (LMI), employers’ demands and needs. Employers and enterprises are not carried along in the planning and design of National Occupational Standards (NOS) and National Vocational Qualification Frameworks (NV QF).

The existing National Apprenticeship Scheme has lots of gaps as it does not serve the needs of employers. Qualifications issued are not only company-specific (lacking transferability) but also lack both national and international recognition.

The proposed Sector Skills Councils are meant therefore to address these challenges as they will help to create an inexhaustible large pool of skills relevant to various sectors of Nigeria economy, enhance employability, reduce training costs and boost productivity.

Why Sector Skills Councils? Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are employer-led organizations which seek to ensure an adequately skilled workforce for their relevant sectors.

They are normally established and managed by the private sector but funded by the government.

Goals of Sector Skills Councils:

The Sector Skills Councils which will be established for each identifiable sector of the economy aim to:
a) Support employers in developing and managing apprenticeship standards.
b) Reduce skills gaps and shortages as well as improve productivity
c) Boost the skills of the sector’s workforce.
d) Improve learning and training in their sector
e) Develop a skill development plan for the sector
f) Develop National Occupation Standards (NOS) for validation of vocational qualification
g) Develop and operate a Labour Market Information system for their sector.

Relationship between NOS, SSCs, and Vocational Qualifications:

National Occupational Standards (NOS) which helps to breakdown the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to undertake a particular role in the industry are specifically used among others to:

– Develop qualifications
= Develop training programmes
– Define job descriptions and recruitment adverts Establish performance management

The Sector Skill Councils should be able to:

Define and develop their respective National Occupational Standards (NOS) to ensure best fit or fit for-purpose qualifications.

– Collaborate with awarding bodies and institutions to develop qualifications – Get involved in developing and designing new occupational standards.
– Get involved in ensuring the vocational education and training are demand-led rather than supply-led. Assist in improving the relevance of qualifications, including apprenticeship.

What is in SSCs for the Construction Sector?

A functional Sector Skills Council for Construction Sector is expected to help develop an understanding of the future skills needs for the industry, contribute to the development of National Occupational Standards. assist in the design and approval of apprenticeship frameworks and the Apprenticeship Standards and create Sector Qualification Strategies as Well as a large pool of high talent personnel for the sector.

As one of the key sectors of the Nigerian economy whose productivity, profitability and overall performance depend largely on the competence and quality of its huge workforce, stakeholders in the construction sector are called upon to extend their collaboration, support and buy in for the establishment of the Sector Skills Council, given the obvious trickledown benefits.

In view of the importance attached to the SSCs value chain, UNIDO and lTF have been sensitizing stakeholders in the key sectors to key into the programme. Speaking at one of such meetings in Lagos, UNIDO representative Dr. Chuma Ezedinma noted that SSCs could also help to articulate the voice of the employers on skills, develop innovative skills solutions and salvage employer ambition and investment skills and job creation.

On his own part, a representative of the ITF Mr. Dickson Onuoha highlighted the role of skills in realizing the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) launched in 2014. As he put it. having conducted Skills Gap Assessment for both demand and supply in collaboration with UNIDO, findings from the supply side indicated that skills Gap cannot be adequately identified without the establishment of functional Sector Skills Councils (SSCs).

UNlDO consultant who is also a Senior Adviser on Industrial Skills Development, Simon Armstrong, identified the absence of Labour Market Information (LMI) as a key disturbing factor in skills gap assessment stating that there is no link between skills supply planning and skills demand from industry. Worse still, Nigerian education is essentially academic and content- driven with almost no linkage to industry; and no monitoring system to trace labour market performance of post-secondary graduates Having laid the card on the table, it is now left for the various stakeholders in the critical sectors of the Nigerian economy to embrace the SSCs establishment in their own interest and in the overall interest of industrial revolution in Nigerian.

This article was originally published in the Nigeria Construction Digest Vol 1 No. 4 June 2016. Images from www,


HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: Adding values to business through employee’s commitment and motivation

Late Slr Johnny Ogbuene (MCIPM, MNIPR, MNIM, MIMC) Certified Human Resource Professional


It is not in dispute that employees are the most important and valuable assets of organizations; and that the productivity of the workforce or human capital is not only critical to profit making but more importantly to sustainability of the profit level.

What therefore separates a successful and winning organization from the others is the ability of the Managers to excite and deploy effectively, the innate attributes of knowledge, attitude and skills of the right people, towards the achievement of organizational goals. This correlates with Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning domain categorized as cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitude) and psychomotor (skills).

The HR manager should be concerned with how to make people in organizations apply productively the knowledge. positive attitude and needed skills along with all other attributes of human capital towards achieving organizational goals.


This discourse ls Intended to: –

investigate how Human Resource Management (HRM) practices and processes can stimulate or motivate employee commitment and bring about added value to business.

– identify HR practices that can be effectively deployed in a structured manner to enhance organizational commitment.
– Demonstrate that HR practices and tools can and do actually add value to organizations
– Locate the role and influence of motivation in all of these
– Perspectives of-IRM

HRM could be seen among others as “a strategic. integrated and coherent approach to the employment. development and wellbeing of people working in organizations” Michael Armstrong (2012: 4). But Storey’s definition (1995:5) captures my attention – HRM is “a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive advantage through strategic deployment of a my highly committed and capable workforce using an integrated array of cultural. structural and personnel techniques” The evolution and advancements in modern Human Resource Management have challenged the practitioners to approach HR practices and processes more strategically and with business-minded disposition to add needed value and contribute significantly to the bottom-line.

HR practitioners are expected to be more proactive and innovative rather than the old traditional personnel administration role of reacting to situations and providing mere support services.

The HR practitioners are expected to flow with the paradigm shift by:

– emphasizing strategic thinking rather than implementation procedures:
– going beyond focusing on the employees’ needs and also emphasizing the employee requirements in the light of business needs;
– seeing employees as investment to be nurtured,
– working to initiate and stimulate change instead of just supporting change,
– contributing added value to the business instead of just serving other business units, ‘ working to create values that can deliver results.

Todays “HRM” no longer alts on the fence but are expected to assume the role of being:

– Strategic business partner:  meaningfully contribute in accomplishing business goals by taking active part in setting strategic direction.
– Administrative expert: help reengineer delivery of services and discover more efficient ways to get work done
– Employee champion:  advocate for employees and be able to manage their contributions; try not just to win employees body/feet but also win their minds.
– Change Agent:  be able to manage transformation: serve as catalyst for change, facilitator and designer of system change; be able to build corporate capacity to cope with various levels of changes; initiate and focus on implementing new programs, projects or procedures; stimulating not just process change by improving on internal processes but also cultural change by quick adaptation.

Stakeholders of HR functions – In performing their functions, the HR managers should be clear of their various stakeholders to ensure organization’s policies. practices, procedures and processes are tailored to Impact positively on their needs with value added. The Identifiable stakeholders Include:

– Top Management
– Line Managers
– Employees
– Trade Unions
– Suppliers
– Outsource partners
– Local community (community of plant or operational location).
–  Educational institutions
– Other internal support departments
To attend to the needs of all the identified stakeholders and achieve the enterprise goals certainly requires the engagement and deployment of committed and well-motivated workforce who should drive the processes.

What is employee Commitment?

Employee commitment is interchangeable with organizational commitment, which constitutes a key factor in achieving competitive performance. It is the employee efforts to achieve organizational objectives. Committed employees display better job performances, demonstrate willingness to welcome new challenges. desire to stay with the organization for longer periods and make significant contributions in gaining sustainable competitive advantage for the organization, (Schuler, & Jackson, 199).

Characteristics of a committed employee

Porter et al. (1974) and Monday et al. (1979) note that those who are committed to the organization can be characterized by at least three interrelated factors:

a) A strong belief in and an acceptance of the organization’s goals and values.
b) A willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization.
c) A strong desire to maintain membership of the organization

In other words, a committed employee:

– feels connected in a bond with the organization. feels that he/she belongs and fits in.
– feels that he/she understands the goals of the organization – appears more determined in the work
– shows relatively high productivity
– demonstrates more enthusiasm
– shows more proactiveness in offering services
– is a good team player

HRM practice of leading to Employee Commitment

In their study of “HRM Strategies for W Managing Employee Commitment” Mohyin, Dainty and Carrilo (2012) identified eight (8) important practice that can enhance employee’s commitment. They include

HRM practice of leading to Employee Commitment

In their study of “HRM Strategies for W Managing Employee Commitment” Mohyin, Dainty and Carrilo (2012) identified eight (8) important practice that can enhance employee’s commitment. They include

a) Employee resourcing (Recruitment and Selection)
b) Performance management (which includes career opportunities and progression)
c) Training and development
d) Reward management
e) Employee involvement
f) Job design
g) Flexibility policies/work-life balance practices
h) Employment security

Also found to significantly correlate with organizational commitment Include:

– Career choice commitment
– Satisfaction with career progression
– Job involvement
– Supervisory support
– Perception of organizational diversity
– Work empowerment
– Membership maintenance
– Belongingness
– Specific goal achievement
– Project assignment and acceptance
– Internalization (value congruence)
–  Regular meetings that enhance involvement

HR practitioners are thus expected to carefully design and implement the right mix of quality HRM practices as enunciated above to achieve employee commitment. And the key stimulator of employee commitment is motivation.

How does Motivation excite and stimulate employee commitment? – E.B. Flippo (1984: 390-391) has listed ten typically specified wants 0! employees to Include:

– Pay: To satisfy physiological, ‘ security and egoistic needs
– Security of job:  job security accorded high priority by both employees and unions
– Congenial associates:  need for good atmosphere for socialization. rest, teams and work life balance. Credit for work done — attends to egoistic needs and can be satisfied via – verbal praise. public recognition and monetary rewards
– A meaningful job :  attended to via job enrichment
– Opportunity to advance: most employees want to know they have this opportunity — room to grow with the organization.
– Competent and fair leadership – also attends to physiological and security needs. Employees feel frustrated to be subjected to commands/authority of a superior who is deemed unworthy and incompetent.
– Reasonable orders and directions – unreasonable orders could elicit employee’s malicious obedience
– A socially relevant organization – attends to self-esteem needs
– in response to the trend to social expectations

As employees join organizations with the expectation to satisfy identifiable wants, organizations in turn expect certain behaviours from the employees.

Flippo (19842392) terms the managerial responsibility for eliciting this behavior as “direction” or “motivation”. This is one of the organic functions of management – (Planning, Organizing. Directing and controlling).

A motive is a reason for doing something and motivation is the force that energizes, directs and sustains behavior (Armstrong 2012. 181). it Is a stimulant, if well deployed can bring about high performance.

Motivation theories

Motivation theories e.g., Content theories and Behaviour/Response Theories, have attempted to probe and interrogate why employees react or behave the way they do. given that motivation is a personal experience.

But most of these motivation theories have received some good doses of criticisms as they have issues with universal acceptability and scientific validation. Nevertheless, all have made meaningful and appreciable contributions to the understanding of human behaviour and the processes that affect motivation.

Types of motivation — there are two identifiable types of motivation – Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivations.

a) Extrinsic Motivation — Occurs when things are done to or fer people to motivate them rewards such as incentives, increased pay, praise, promotion and punishments like disciplinary actions, withholding pay or criticism — carrot and stick approach.
b) intrinsic Motivation – Is provided or embedded in work itself and associated with the concept of engagement, employee’s willingness to go the extra mile, discretionary effort, organizational citizenship and commitment, display of personal initiatives – resulting from the feeling of doing meaningful and interesting work that provides opportunity to achieve self- fulfillment.

HR professionals are expected to leverage on the understanding and control buttons of social scientists, behavioral economics and management experts for management of people in organizations by:

 a. Developing performance management processes that recognize accomplishments
b. Developing reward systems that provide for financial and non-financial rewards to recognize achievements.
c. Designing jobs that take account of those factors affecting motivation to work like job enrichment and involvement in decision making
d. Providing opportunities for employees’ personal and career development via appropriate learning and development programmes.
e. Providing HR structures that can identify and develop leadership potentials

How can HRM practices bring about Value added to the stakeholders?

Value must be defined by the receiver, not the giver of services. Dave Ulrich, (1997: 95). Value or benefit. is not delivered if HR practices and processes do not have positive and satisfactory impact on the targeted stakeholders).

 The values or benefits delivered – through HRM practice can be more appreciated by referring to the three key stakeholders’ expectations:

a. For top management – they expect cost reduction and efficiency, reputation, leadership development. culture and. values as well as strategy.
b. For line Managers — they expect administrative services, professional advice, timely and right hires, employee motivation and engagement as well as employee development.
c. For employees — they expect commensurate remuneration, bonuses, policies, benefits, communication, security and training.

According to Dave Ulrich, HR professionals must learn to perform Increasingly complex, multiple and paradoxical roles If they must add value to business. They should be able to fulfil and combine:

– Operational and strategic roles
– Quantitative and qualitative role
– Administrative and consultative roles
– Short-term and long-term roles
– Functional and business-oriented roles
– Reactive and proactive roles
– Policing and partnering roles
– Focus both internally and externally

HRM can also add value by:

a. Building and operating an organization that is more customer responsive -through innovations and faster decision making.
b. Championing competitiveness by focusing on the deliverables of their work and articulating work in terms of value created.
c. Creating measurable results in terms of business competitiveness rather than just employee comfort
d. Leading cultural transformation rather than consolidating. Reengineering or downsizing when the enterprise needs to turn around
e. Ensuring that the right people are hired at the right time and in right numbers, because the right people do not need to be closely managed or fired up; they usually would be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce meaningful result.
f. Enthroning the culture of discipline in the organization because, according to Jim Collins, (2000:13) “when you have disciplined people. You don’t need hierarchy, when you have disciplined thought you don’t need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls. When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance”

 The primary concern of strategic HR practitioner therefore should be how to design and implement motivational elements that can stimulate employees towards desired commitment for high performance which will help to create value to business. Employee commitment represents one of the deliverables of HR to add value to business.

This article was originally published in the Nigeria Construction Digest Vol 1 No. 5 May 2018. Images from www,