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‘Graduate trainees programme is crucial to job creation’

By Gloria Nwafor
01 July 2021   |   2:59 am
Knowing the abysmal level of work-ready and entrepreneurial skills being taught in our tertiary institutions, a lot of our fresh graduates’ employability quotient is so low.

Olusegun Mojeed

Olusegun Mojeed is the new President and Chairman of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM). In this interview with GLORIA NWAFOR, he talks about his plans to engage with employers and human capital providers to guarantee employees’ well-being, work with law enforcement agencies to tackle quackery and equip young graduates to acquire needed work experience for better job opportunities.

Nigeria’s unemployment rate has skyrocketed. What are your thoughts and how is the institute contributing to the reduction of unemployment in Nigeria?

Knowing the abysmal level of work-ready and entrepreneurial skills being taught in our tertiary institutions, a lot of our fresh graduates’ employability quotient is so low. There is more need to offer comprehensive entry-level training. You cannot blame employers for wanting ready-made employees, thus asking for years of experience for almost all cadre of staff.

Embracing graduate trainees programme by organisations is crucial to reducing unemployment. We have always been at the forefront of grooming our young graduates to be work-ready. We do this in collaboration with our partners, corporate members, and the organised private sector. We have a programme called ‘Ready to Market’ (RTM) for young graduates and members of the institute. It is a highly competitive scheme. Successful candidates are given some classroom training, either virtual instructor-led or in-person. They are then deployed to partner organisations to acquire needed work experience. Such organisations have been magnanimous in cooperating with us and even remunerating the RTM interns throughout their work experience.

Some of these partner organisations have gone further to offer these interns full-time employment in their organisations. We are sincerely grateful to them and hope the partnership continues. It is a partnership that works.

Not all jobs can be handled by greenhorns. However, we are appealing and would continue to work in collaboration with like-minded organisations to intensify the use of graduate trainees programmes where they are currently in use. I know organisations across sectors who are spending a huge chunk of their training budget on this scheme. We would also continue to engage through our advocacy platforms with organisations yet to embrace this scheme, showing them the value derivable from it in financial terms, goodwill and serving the community. We are ready to support those employers, who have perfected this scheme especially in having stringent guidelines for success. After candidates have gone through weeks of training, let them be tested again and the successful ones are given full-time employment by the respective organisations in whatever sector and industry.

There seem to be prevalent cases of unfair treatment and unjust termination of employment in several sectors. What is the institute doing to prevent unfair termination of appointments?

There are processes and policies in place for joining and exiting an organisation even in a crisis period like the one forced on us by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are part of the ILO. We subscribe to the various ILO conventions on decent work and dignity of labour. Nonetheless, the HR profession is not immune to the challenges posed by quackery like in other fields. When organisations hire non-professionals as their ‘HR managers’ because they cannot subject themselves to the rigour of professionalism and work ethic, such organisations hire the people they can manipulate to do their bidding, especially as it relates to unfair hiring and firing. CIPM is a law-abiding professional body. We are also regulatory in function by the power conferred on us by the CIPM Act No. 58 of 1992. Our approach has been that of engaging stakeholders to do the right thing by hiring professionals to manage the people’s side of their businesses. We have not been forceful in the regulatory aspect. You may call a moratorium on enforcing the law. We are available to cooperate with willing organisations in identifying professionals.

Another very important issue closely related to this is the menace of fake recruiting agencies wreaking havoc all over town. Our institute plans to be the unifying platform for all genuine recruiters. This gives enormous comfort to hiring managers and candidates alike to check with us if an advertised vacancy announcement is genuine or not. We would also work with law enforcement agencies to discourage this act of quackery that is fast becoming a horrible criminal venture. Therefore, when you see the so-called ‘HR managers’ firing people indiscriminately, please check their status as professionals. They are not our members.

Human Resource (HR) department of organisations is becoming a top target for hackers, and it is often too late before organisations notice any wrongdoing. So, what threat does cybercrime pose to the practice of HR. What must organisations do to risk being hacked?

Cybercrime poses a present danger to all, even to us as a nation. Organisations and entities are expected to have regular cybersecurity awareness training for all employees. CIPM is willing to collaborate with the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) to deploy such awareness training across the generality of our membership. We would encourage our members to be involved in putting policies in place for internet usage, the opening of attachments from unknown sources, creating passwords and the frequency of change, and the use of passwords on confidential information.

It is a matter of huge importance because access to unauthorised information by hackers could result in harassment, loss of reputation or business for the individual and/or organisation. Such unwholesome action by hackers could lead to culpability issues for an organisation, and in the worst case, hackers can encrypt an organisation’s data and ask for a ransom to be paid in what is now called ransomware. We also recommend that people should backup essential documents and folders in the cloud, and external storage devices.

How do you think Nigeria can harness skills of citizens to aid development?

People in every organisation are the greatest assets. They are the asset that appreciates. The higher you go, the more experience you have. The more you age, the more valuable you become. There is a need for Nigeria to pay more attention to human capital development to harness the skills of the citizen for development. It is time for us as a people, institute and nation to pay attention to develop our people. Nigerians overseas are doing great, we need to extend the same to transform our country. One of the core thrusts of this administration is a serious engagement with the civil service because it is them that would provide the enabling environment. We need to develop and grow people and be intentional about it.

As the new president of CIPM, what is your vision and plans for achieving this vision?

Firstly, the institute has a foundational vision to be the foremost people management institution across the globe. It is the vision I and my team are building on. We campaigned on our pillar agenda, MIDAS, to take the institute to the best level. M stands for mentoring and grooming the next generation that will take up leadership roles to move the institute forward. We are setting a motion by bringing in the younger generation. I stand for inclusiveness and intergenerational connectedness. We want to make sure our past leaders are still carried along. While we groom the younger ones to take over, there must be a handshake from the older to the new. D is delivering exceptional services to all stakeholders. We aim that wherever our members are with their certificates, it should open doors for them and earn them promotion in their workplaces. A is an accreditation of our certificates. We are going through the route of advocacy and engagement to ensure our certificate is a requirement for HR practitioners in the civil service. S is scaling up the capacity of our competencies and capacities. That is our campaign to actualise our vision as people and organisational management institutions in Africa and globally.

What should the HR community expect in the next coming months?

What is expected of me from stakeholders would heighten what we have been doing. HR cuts across. As president, I will leverage global brands to assist Nigeria which is in dire need of a people being well managed and the need of the human resource component of the economy is well recognised. We are more particular in the area of a decent work environment by partnering with organisations such a NECA, HuCaPAN on how employees can be well treated. Foreign organisations operating in Nigeria that are not giving our workers the deserved respect. I am interested in such cases to engage them on how we can work together to make them respect our people as it is called dignity of labour to make an impact. This we will achieve by upgrading the skills of our locals as HR has to do more about people. HR is about people and every organisation is made up of people before any other thing. I encourage organisations to always come up with graduate trainee programmes to groom graduates.

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