Harnessing human capital for economic development
Policy conception, formulation and execution without deliberate human capital development cannot lead to a sustained economic development. A country that fails to develop its human materials is likely to be under-developed for many decades irrespective of natural endowments underneath its soil.
While Nigeria prides itself as “giant of Africa”, largely on the crude oil deposit and demographic strength, the United States’ billionaire, Bill Gates, warned the country that real and sustainable development would continue to elude it until attention is given to the human capital development.Addressing the national Economic Council in Abuja on March 22, 2018, the Gates said: “If you invest in their health, education, and opportunities, the ‘human capital’ we are talking about today, then they will lay the foundation for sustained prosperity. If you don’t, however, then it is very important to recognise that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow.”
Gates, who is undoubtedly knowledgeable about the subject matter owing to his experience in managing human capital, pointed out that with the best technologies, strategies and policies, Nigeria would not go far without the right people to drive its development agenda. To anchor the economy on long-term planning, he said investments in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investment in the people.
According to him, people without roads, ports, and factories can’t flourish, and roads, ports, and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them cannot sustain an economy.More worrisome is the recent statistics on Human Capital Index (HCI), which placed Nigeria 152 out of 157 countries ranked in the world. However, there is indication that the Federal Government is discreetly addressing the challenge going by the statements credited to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.
She stated that years of under-investment in human capital could not be addressed through policies and plans alone, suggesting that more must be done, because the key to success is devising strategies for effective implementation of high-impact interventions.As the nation continues to witness retrogression in the area of people’s management, whether in the private or public sector, this will continue to drift if the trend is not halted.
The President and Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Udom Inoyo, during the celebration of the institute’s 50th anniversary and yearly conference, brought to the fore, how human capital development, when properly harnessed and leveraged upon, could lead the country to sustainable economic prosperity.
The three-day event, which attracted over 3,000 human resources experts in different fields and sectors across West Africa, had “Stand Out” as its theme. He said if Nigeria wants to achieve meaningful and sustainable economic growth, it must begin to aggressively develop its human capital.
Inoyo agreed that an impressive performance of the economy of most developed and newly industrialised countries is an impressive commitment of human capital development, hence the need for programmes to be introduced in Nigerian universities that will help graduates to be ready for workplace expectations.
Reflecting on the cliché, “putting a round peg in a round hole”, Inoyo described it as a summation of the value proposition of Human Resource Management, whether it is with regards to resourcing a position, managing talent, changing leadership behaviors and organisational culture or executing employee exit.According to him, the leading economically and technologically developed nations of the world have shown that the wealth of nations no longer lies in its possession of abundant natural resources, but in the quality of its Human Resource.
Nigeria, with a population of over 180 million people, has its strength lies in the younger generation, as oil is a depleting asset, even though it continues to drive Nigeria’s economy and its foreign exchange earnings.He emphasised the need for the country to elevate the human capital agenda to the front burner of national policy discourse, while he pledged the institute’s commitment to helping the government in nurturing a workforce that would meet the 21st century challenges.
At the ceremony, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who recalled that the third major pillar of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is investing in people, said it is the most important features of human capital development plan in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Education.He commended CIPM for its contribution to the national discourse on unemployment with the presentation of the results of the research on the unemployment crisis in Nigeria.
He also raised concern over the growing threat posed to humans by the deployment of robots and artificial intelligence in work places, noting that to brace up for the challenge, the Federal Government was focusing on imparting employable skills on students from primary school to tertiary education.
According to him, no sensible discussion of the economy can be done without acknowledging the role of the people.During the master class sessions, the Senior Manager, People Services, KPMG, Boluwaji Apanpa, spoke on Leveraging Total Rewards Strategy to Drive a Highly Engaged Workforce, noting that in attracting the right employees, keeping them motivated and productive have always been a daunting challenge for HR professionals.
However, understanding of ‘Total Rewards’ approach and its elements, provides companies with the leverage to implement an effective strategy that will ensure the achievement of the organisation’s objective, while attracting, retaining and motivating the employees.He said the Total Rewards approach seeks to find the appropriate mix of reward elements that will not only attract, motivate and retain employees, but lead to employee satisfaction and engagement.
He mentioned three things that shape the employee’s experiences at every organisation around the world, which involves a complete redesign of the organisation that puts employees at the centre. According to him, instead of trying to force people to fit into outdated workplace practices, organizations must redesign their workplace practices to fit with their people.
“Strategic communication is a critical element in successfully implementing a total rewards programme. Communication is key to preserving the message embedded in reward programmes as well as enhancing employee buy-in. For optimal results, a communication strategy should adopt a combination of different channels for reaching employees,” he said.