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Mass exodus as unemployment bites harder

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The queues at the embassies by Nigerians seeking to go to foreign countries is an evident of growing number of Nigerians that are pursuing greener pastures anew abroad.

While different reasons could be adduced for Nigerians leaving the country for overseas, one glaring reason is the shrinking job opportunities, near absence of social infrastructure and low spending on social services such as education and health by the government.

Indeed, it is not just jobless people that are leaving, but those that have employment but crave better packages.

From 2015 till date, over one million Nigerians have migrated to several countries in Europe, America, Asia, and other parts of Africa.

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Figures released in February 2018 by the British government showed that over 5,000 Nigerian-trained doctors and nurses were currently working with the British National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, constituting 3.9 per cent of the 137,000 foreign staff of 202 nationalities working alongside British doctors and nurses. The trend transcends to other sector sectors of the nation’s economy including banking, hospitality, education, etc.

The movement however is attributable to employers focus on work factors and money over human and social factors necessary in motivating employees to move to a city and stay there. Hence, to change the swing, employers must put people first and at the core of every plan.

According to a report by Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and career, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (NYSE: MMC), employers need to do a better assignment understanding each worker’s needs and customizing communications, benefits and programmes for them to stay on that job.

The study unveiled recently in Lagos is an extensive study that examines the needs of workers in the world’s fastest – growing cities across four key factors – human, health, money and work.

It revealed that employees in Nigeria rank affordable housing as the most important factor when deciding where to live and work, followed by job satisfaction and then pay and bonuses.

Employers’ supported life and medical insurance ranks in fourth place.

Titled ‘People first: driving growth in emerging megacities’, the study surveyed 7,200 workers and 577 employers in 15 current and future megacities across seven countries, namely Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco and Nigeria.

As defined by the United Nations, these 15 cities will have a combined population of 150 million people by 2030 and share strong, projected GDP.

Overall, satisfaction with life ranks as the most important factor for workers in deciding whether to stay in or leave a city.

According to the report: “When considering a move to a new city, workers rate life satisfaction twice as important than employers realize. Safety and security rank second. Income comes in third, with proximity to family and friends in fourth and career and job opportunities fifth.”

The study revealed that it is only after people have made the decision to move to a new city do money and job factors become more important.

“When looking to make a professional move within a city, the three top drivers are money, better career opportunities, and promotion or advancement. At the hyper-local level, proximity-based amenities and infrastructure, along with various cultural factors, matter more to employees”, the report said.

The study further provides actionable strategies businesses can use to attract, develop and keep the best and the brightest workers.

Speaking recently during the launch of the report in Nigeria and leaders dialogue Chief Executive Officers (CEO and Human Resource Officers, head, business development function for Mercer Africa, Deon De Swardt said the study will help organisations to plan and adopt peoples strategies in order to attract the right people to work.

He said: “We learned that employers misunderstand what motivates people to move to a city and stay there. Moreover, cities are not performing well when it comes to addressing many of the more human and social factors that are listed as important among key employee groups. This dynamic creates natural tensions between what people value most and a city’s ability to deliver.

“To attract and keep people demands creating an environment for them to thrive across multiple dimensions. Doing so requires putting people first and focusing on what matters most. Employers misunderstand what motivates people to move to a city and stay there.

“Human and social factors are actually more important than money and work factors. Closing this gap necessitates understanding that each worker has a unique set of needs and, as such, employers must customize communications, compensation packages and programs accordingly. One size does not fit all, not for cities, not for businesses and definitely not for people.”

Swardt however stressed the need for effective public-private partnerships to facilitate the necessary improvements that could translate into better economy for the country.

“To accelerate progress at scale and create the environments in which workers and their families can thrive, and in order to underpin sustainable economic growth for everyone, companies and governments must work together to address the future needs of the employees they are trying to attract”, he added.

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Representative of the ministry of Labour and Employment and head of job centre and migrant desk, Lagos, Mienye Badejo, assured that the Federal Government is willing to collaborate with the private sector to address the issue of unemployment, future work and skillset.

“First, we need to close the gap between the private sector and the government who are the regulators. We need to work together and not in silos so that every organization is on the same page of getting things working.

“Our work is essentially about decent work, making sure that people are comfortable in their work place because a happy employee ensures productivity and the economy grows when employers are in a good space. It is all about protecting the nation’s workforce,” she said.

Badejo, who said there are enough employment opportunities in the country, blamed the lack of necessary skillset for the difficulty in finding jobs.

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