By Emma Okonji
Given the unprecedented impact that COVID-19 pandemic has had on organisations and industries, which has compelled industries globally, Nigeria inclusive, Microsoft has said about 149 million new digital skill jobs are required in the next five years to accelerate global transformation.
Speaking at a virtual roundtable event, it hosted recently to discuss how the rampant digital transformation accelerated by COVID-19 has impacted skills demand, the Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Akin Banuso, noted that COVID-19 had dramatically accelerated the pace of digital transformation and as a result, digital skills are required immediately.
According to Banuso; “Our recent research study shows that by 2025 digital job capacity will mean the creation of 149 million new jobs. Further to this, 800 million people will be required to learn new skills to fully execute their jobs by 2030. As the economy in Nigeria starts to slowly reopen for business, we anticipate the return to an economy with different needs and certainly one, were a new challenge presents itself in terms of skills.”
The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, said with the global demand for new digital skill jobs, Nigeria must begin to retrain its citizens and equip them to become part of the required number people expected to have new digital skills by 2025. According to him, lack of digital skills gap could jeopardize recovery from COVID-19 pandemic.
“Never before have digital skills been more critical as they are today. As we are gradually coming out of COVID-19, there is need for Nigerians to adjust to the new normal for work life balance and re-skilling for the new digital jobs. The impact of COVID-19 is actually accelerating the speed of digital transformation and Nigeria must be part of the global digital transformation,” Abdullahi said.
He cited the Mckinsey Global Report of 2017, which estimated that as much as 375 million workers, which represent 14 per cent of the global workforce would have to switch occupations to acquire new digital skills by 2030 because of the emergence of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic is fast forwarding the trend.
Abdullahi further said the COVID-19 pandemic escalated digital initiatives into digital imperatives, and created urgent pressure for organisations to rethink the needed skills that would adjust to the new normal.
Off the back of the recent Global Skilling Initiative announcement to aid 25 million job seekers worldwide to acquire the skills required to survive in the new digital economy, the Microsoft organised roundtable, one of the first in a series developed to provide answers to youth employment and skill promotion, brought together thought leaders and decision makers from the private sector, government agencies and academia.
Microsoft Director of Corporate, External and Legal Affairs, in charge of Middle East, Africa (MEA) Emerging Markets, Mr. John Edokpolo, in his presentation, said: “One of our key objectives is to gain a better understanding of the available models, approaches and best practices in employment as we edge closer to the recovery phase of the COVID-19 crisis.”
The panel session, which featured the Chief Digital Officer, Sterling Bank, Mr. Olayinka Oni; National Coordinator, The Office of Nigeria Content Development in ICT, Mr. Kasim Sodangi; Academic Director at the Lagos Business School, Prof. Olayinka David-West; and Director, Partnership and Sustainability at Tech4Dev, Mr. Joel Ogunsola, discussed the need for organisations to retrain their workforce to become part of the expected 800 million people required to learn new skills to fully execute their jobs by 2030.