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COVID-19 has opened new vista for capacity building, training, says HuCaPAN

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The Private Employment Agencies in Nigeria, Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria (HuCaPAN) has said COVID-19 has opened a new vista for capacity building, training for its members, and the general public.

The association also disclosed that the pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on the industry just as it has affected domestic and international businesses across countries and sectors.

Speaking at the ninth yearly general meeting held virtually, President of HuCaPAN, Remi Adegboyega, said COVID-19 has affected every sector of the economy including the outsourcing industry, urging members to, however, take advantage of the new opportunities that the situation has provided.

Adegboyega, who doubled as the Chairman of the meeting, identified the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak as the reason for the virtual meeting, which would have hitherto held in April physically.

At the meeting, HuCaPAN got member’s approval for its financial statements for the year ended 2019; appointed new auditors, and ratified its amended Constitution.

He said: “COVID-19 forced our offices to close totally or partially. It impaired the ability to manage day-to-day service delivery for certain clients or at certain sites and result in, among other things, losses of revenue and inadvertent breaches of client contracts if a group of employees who serve the same customers was unable to work at the same time.

“Some of our member-companies have experienced contract cancellation; downward contract review; the inability of clients to fulfill obligations; and reduction of manpower among others. Even, our governments partially shut the government; organizations shut workplaces, stores, and processing plants. Many companies had to resort to digital facilities like video conferencing, Google, Microsoft, Skype, and other tools to work remotely.”

He noted that in order to maintain relevance in the corporate world, members and individuals need training on modern digital skills and tools. During this tough time, Microsoft has seen more than 750 per cent increase in the usage of its collaboration platform Teams.

“The pandemic has changed our social and work environment culture. One of the key lessons we have learned is to plan towards creating a distributed workforce and allow employees to work remotely when and where necessary.

“As a result of the closure of schools, many organizations allowed their employees to work remotely and adapt to the work-from-home culture fully (WFH). The major challenge in this is that many companies do not have enough technology and resources for employees to work at home.

This system, according to him further poses challenges of the helpless old systems, poor network connectivity, and UPS backup. More than two-thirds of employees lack access to business tools like Skype, Zoom, Cisco Webex, etc.

“I urge you all to maintain hygienic workplace, encourage social distancing and remote working practices as the world continues to find a solution to the virus. However, as much as the pandemic has created challenges to our industry; it has equally created new opportunities. We must explore and key into these new opportunities.”

Commenting on a proposed private member bill in the House of Representatives, which is aimed at outlawing outsourcing in Nigeria, Adegboyega said that the sponsor of the bill was not well informed on the outsourcing industry stating that there is a clear difference between outsourcing and casualisation.

He added that HuCaPAN mantra is that anywhere a Nigerian is found working; he or she must have a decent job.

He said: “It appears that the sponsor of the bill (like many other members) are not well informed about the concept of outsourcing because even the United Nations and its other agencies make use of outsourced personnel like interpreters, drivers, security personnel etc.

“Most of our lawmakers, policymakers, and Nigerians have not researched into outsourcing and its benefits to the economy. Private Employment Agencies employ between 3-5 million workers and pays different forms of tax like Company Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) etc. to the government.

“There is no relationship between outsourcing, which promotes decent jobs and casualisation. I urge our legislators to rather be concerned with the terms and conditions of service of the workers rather than who they work for. I am optimistic that the bill would fail on technical ground given the fact that labour legislation is a tripartite one, which involves the employers, labour unions, and the government and they would not support the bill.”

He said: “HuCaPAN has made its position known to the Labour Act Review Committee through the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA). Meanwhile, HuCaPAN has been engaging stakeholders including the labour centres – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FML&E), and other key stakeholders to ensure that the bill is not included in our labour law. Also, we have been engaging the media to enlighten the public on outsourcing and its benefits to the economy.

“As a responsible Association, we have given ourselves, a housekeeping guideline in addition to the Nigeria Code of Conduct for Private Employment Agencies. All member companies have been directed to ensure that HMO, Pension, and Group Life Insurance are taken into consideration in contract terms as well as circulation of the Code of Conduct for Private Employment Agencies in Nigeria to members and relevant stakeholders.”

The President said that HuCaPAN would continue to partner with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment who was recently supported with three desktops, two laptops, one printer, and an Internet Modem with six months’ subscription and other social partners to promote decent job for workers.

Earlier in his remarks, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who was represented by the Director of Employment and Wages, John Nyamali, and the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Forum (NECA), Dr. Timothy Olawale who was represented by Deputy Director, Legal, Regulatory and Taxation, Thompson Akpabio, congratulated HuCaPAN for maintaining the standard that the industry requires.

Ngige appreciated HuCaPAN for the computers and office equipment donated to the ministry saying that they are currently being deployed to facilitate licensing of Private Employment Agencies in the country.

He urged HuCaPAN to continue to partner with the ministry to weed out quacks in the industry.

He added that the labour laws are currently under review saying that the validation of the reviewed document is ongoing. He said that the issue of ban on international recruitment is being attended to at the ministry as the ministry has developed Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) and forwarded it to the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Olawale commended HuCaPAN for continuously organising capacity building programs for its members. He said, “I commend HuCaPAN for continuous building of the capacity of its members especially, decentralizing its workshop to three locations which have improved participation and quality of the workshops.”

Members reappointed Bolu Adesina & Co. (Chartered Accountant) as auditors.


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