The notion that Nigerian graduates are unemployable is an open secret. But Mrs Busola Alofe, the newly appointed Registrar/CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management(CIPM) beleives that the problem can be tackled in many ways.
Hear her: “Another area that often comes up when it comes to employability is the ability to connect what you have learnt from University or polytechnic to entrepreneurship and make sure that businesses actually work and deliver value.”
In this interview, he sheds more light .Excerpts:
Nigeria has a number of challenges and there are things we are not quite happy about. But at the same time, we are a country with tremendous opportunities and talents, and that is something you will see in the way CIPM is positioned going forward.
I want to continue to be part of our change journey as a country. As a country, we have rich and diverse cultures. We have abundant resources and can truly lead the world.
Fundamentally, the challenges we have as a country, boils to people and the leadership qualities, that will make our economy and the country work or not. Therefore as the CEO of CIPM, I have 28 years of extensive experience in the area of human resource management tied very strongly to the achievements of business objectives. As the CIPM forges ahead with our mission of being the foremost organisation of development and people management institute in Africa and the world; the expertise and knowledge of global best practices, and having worked in a number of Nigeria organisations, and being able to localize the practices that will help in achieving competitive advantage as a country in respective organisations in public and private sectors, and different industries across the country. We will see impact in those areas.
I believe that the strategic objectives of CIPM for 2020 will be continually reiterated by the current leadership team led by the President/Chairman of Council, Mr. Olawale Adediran, fcipm. Our longterm goal is to build the CIPM of our dream. We will achieve this by driving a number of priority areas, and I am certain that implementing the initiative in our current strategic plans will move us in leaps and bounds towards achieving those objectives.
So our strategic objectives are derived from our current three-year plan which we updated in 2019 and it will take us to 2021. I was part of a team that developed it as a member of council. Key area of focus is stakeholders’ satisfaction.
Our stakeholders cut across different areas of our economy, even into Africa as I have mentioned previously, they need to be satisfied with our value proposition and how we contribute to meeting their needs and objectives. We want to understand what is important to them and through that create and tailor our services offering, so that they get what they need, when they need it and translate that into impacts in their organisations. Secondly, operational excellence is very important. We will not be able to achieve stakeholders’ satisfaction or deliver prime experience if our own ways of working are not excellent. We need efficient and effective processes.
We need top quality people that will do the work of the institute. So we will be focusing on the work, the worker and the workplace and ensure that everything we do in delivering our operational activities creates and deliver prime experience. In addition, we have to focus on our brand presence; what is the CIPM? What do we do? What is the value preposition to our different stakeholders groups? That has to be properly articulated, but importantly communicated so that they understand what is in it for them, by either becoming members of the CIPM or collaborating with us.
We are present in several States of Nigeria, not just in Lagos. Everywhere, we go the stamp of professional quality and excellence should be what is associated with the CIPM brand. So we are working on brand presence. We are the apex regulatory institute for people management practices in Nigeria and Africa. So the effectiveness of our regulatory oversight duties are important, we hear stories from time to time of unsavoury practices in certain companies where workers are not treated well.
We need to help organisations understand their responsibilities towards their workers, what the laws allows and make sure that erring organisations and people are made to face the consequences of those actions. Where it is due to ignorance, we have a mandate to ensure that people understand, so we will not just communicate these things, but also monitor to ensure that the overall people’s experience is positive.
We will also look at growth; Africa is the world we look at and from there to the international space. So we will also be looking at opportunities to partner with organisations outside Nigeria to strengthen the Africa story, when it comes to people management and make sure that Nigeria and Africa is on the map of best practices in human resources management with time.
My ideal work environment is one where people appreciates that we are not just in business to drive HR practices, it starts and ends with the business. So we need to understand the business objectives of each organisation. Then translate those objectives into the right people management strategies that will help achieve the objectives of the organisation.
I will like to work in an organisation where the workers have clarity and understanding of the business objectives and how that translates into the work they themselves to do everyday. This will bring out their passion and motivation because they know what is expected of them, they know what they organisation is trying to achieve and they can contribute their own quota to the achievement of those goals.
We are all motivated by achievements. So having well-educated and knowledgeable workers are important. In addition, where people don’t have the right knowledge and skills, I will like to work in an organisation that develops its people because people are the greatest assets. Whatever it is we are doing, if the people are motivated, developed, they are skilled and they have the opportunity to contribute then they can find meaning in the work they are doing. Beyond that contributing to what is important, to the organisation and the country and themselves. I will like to work in an organisation where that is important and it is the culture.
The workplace in which people work is very important. There are certain work environments that actually kill productivity. The resources needed are not available, and the culture is toxic. I like to work in highly competitive cultures where the work environment is aligned with the strategy and enabling of high level of productivity and performance, and that is the type of organisation which my colleagues and other professionals in the CIPM, my team of leaders and the general workforce, will be building in the coming years.
In terms of the challenges that members of the institute face, let’s go back to the response on our strategic objective. Our members want to see impact from their association with the institute and a big question they often ask is so what if I’m a member of the CIPM? So what if I possess the CIPM HR professional license, which is actually the CIPM badge of excellence for HR professionals. How does this help me in my own development in career? They want to see the connection between what they get out of CIPM and their development and growth in their respective organisations. This is why the CIPM is currently partnering with the Heads of Service of the federation and States, to strengthen the quality of people management practices in the civil service, with the aim of also seeing that our certificates and diplomas are accepted in the scheme of service. Similarly to what accountants get with their ICAN certificates and accreditations. Our HR professionals will start to see similar possibilities of progress through associating with the CIPM and through possessing the HR practitioners’ license.
There are a number of them and we are well aware of these concerns and needs. If they have the CIPM diploma and the HR practitioners’ license, and if they are going to move outside Nigeria, of what value is it to them because they want to be able to transition seamlessly to other countries. It might surprise you to know that Canada has actually accepted our HR certificates and diploma, and so practitioners that might migrate to Canada can expect a very seamless move and to get jobs relatively easily and career progression in Canadian organisations. We are already accepted in Canada and we will do further work to see similar acceptance in other countries where our professions seek to migrate to. Those are some of the needs of members of the institute.
Moreover, our members want to be more involved in the progress of improving the HR experience across Nigeria. So all the activities of the institute, we actually don’t do them alone by ourselves in the secretariat, we involve different members of the institute through their voluntary participation in committees. We call upon them to help us with visit to various stakeholders as we execute the action plans of the institute. We will call on our members for their ideas, experiences and support as we take the agenda forward.
One of the answers to this unemployability challenge is the CIPM understanding where the root causes of the issues lay, which lead to gaps, in skills, knowledge, experience and expertise and whether we do it for ourselves through our ready to market programme or we choose to collaborate with other institutions to create programme and deploy programme that help to close the gap in the knowledge and skills of these graduates. Those are some actions we can engage in. Another area that often comes up when it comes to employability is the ability to connect what you have learnt from University or polytechnic to entrepreneurship and make sure that businesses actually work and deliver value. I know that the industrial training fund have programmes that drives entrepreneurship. I know that several organisations have their internal programmes that strengthen the skills sets of post school participants. These are all different areas that the CIPM can partner and collaborate to help to address the concern with unemployability. In addition, in bridging the gap between what we call the town and the gown, CIPM recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Ibadan.