The continuous changes in business dynamics has necessitated the need for employers to prioritise training of workers for improved productivity. ZAKA ABD-KHALIQ writes.

No doubt, the only constant thing in life is change. The world we live in, is moving at a metro speed, with new discoveries rendering the previous innovation and invention redundant.

This change is also affecting business dynamics as new ways and method of persuading and marketing of products and services keep evolving on a daily basis.

This, however, signals the need to prioritise capacity building to stay ahead of competition, increased productivity and profitability.

In this instance, employers must take the responsibility of funding the training of their workers so that their companies can meet the demand and standard of the present situation.

It was to this end that experts are now calling for capacity building and development of staff in workplace in order to stand the test of time and survive stiff competition in business cycle.

According to experts, capacity building and development is one of the major ways an organisation invests in the workforce for greater return today and even in the foreseeable future. Organisational effectiveness, experts said, rests on the efficient and effective performance of workforce that makeup the organisation, while the efficient and effective performance of the workforce in turn, rest on the richness of the knowledge, skills and abilities possessed by the workforce.

According to experts, the continuous glamour for social change to make adaptability and continuing preparation of the workforce as inevitable as the initial acquisition of knowledge and skills is germane.

While experts believe training presents a prime opportunity to expand the knowledge base of all employees, however, many employers in the current climate find development opportunities expensive. Employees attending training sessions also miss out on work time which may delay the completion of projects. However, despite these potential drawbacks, training and development provides both the individual and organisations with benefits that make the cost and time a worthwhile investment. The return on investment from training and development of employees is really a no brainer.

Stakeholders’ Reactions

Group managing director, Custodian Investment, Mr Wole Oshin, while calling for constant capacity building of entrepreneurs, said this will expose them to new ways of doing things, which, would in the long run, improve their products and brand.

President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria(CIBN), Dr Uche Olowu, said currently there is a great deal of pressure at work, especially in the banking and finance industry, some of which challenge the very core of banking business.

The emergence of digital technology, according to him, had been the major disruptor that defied business as usual and long-term strategic planning, adding that, this digital revolution had brought about a new set of challenges and opportunities.

While these technologies are taking away jobs, he said, they are creating new ones, calling for capacity building of bankers to leverage on the opportunities provided by this development.

The registrar, Institute of Credit Administration of Nigeria (ICA), Professor Chris Onalo, said that although there are many categories of training, such as management training or sales training, employees with Project Management skills are an important asset to any organisation.

Stating that training improves employees’ performance, he added that, the investment in training that a company makes shows employees that they are valued.

A robust training and development programme, he said, ensures that employees have a consistent experience and background knowledge, addresses their weaknesses, increases productivity and adherence to quality standards, increases innovation in new strategies and products, reduces employee turnover and enhances company reputation and profile. He charged his colleagues in the business of credit administration to constantly invest in themselves and their employees through training and retraining on the rudiments of credit administration so that Nigeria’s credit administrators can compete favourably with their counterparts globally.

Managing director, AIICO Pension Managers Limited, Eguarekhide Longe, also called on companies to provide platform to constantly train, not only their workforce, but the unemployed youths so that they become employable.

If more people have the needed capacity to be employed and are later employed, while their employers open a pension account for them, he said, this will add to the customer base of the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).

He stressed that one of the ways to develop the pension system is to provide jobs for the unemployed youths, adding that his firm had taken the initiative to get more people into the workforce by educating them on how to prospect for jobs, which is a form of capacity building.

“What we are doing is simply to find a way to assist individuals who are prospecting the job market. It is really a give back opportunity for us to advice, counsel and encourage them. If we want people to work, we must also assist them in getting jobs,” he said.

While addressing the final year law students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) in Lagos recently during a capacity building programme, convener and founder, Stephen Legal, Stephen Azubuike said: “While acquiring sound academic background remains important, it is also necessary to build capacity in non-academic aspects. In a society of limited job opportunities and highly competitive legal industry, gaining an extra edge by way of capacity building is extremely important.”

Founder, Technology Development for Poverty Alleviation Initiative, Mr Collins Agu, said Nigerian technologists perform excellently abroad, but the story is different in Nigeria, urging the federal government to address the trend by improving the country’s industrial base. Agu said it was disheartening that the country lacked industrial base that could spur local technologists that would exhibit their potential.

He charged relevant government agencies like National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to organise capacity building programme from time to time, in order to create awareness so that indigenous technologists are kept abreast of some of these emerging technologies.

Building Capacity of Staff

In a research carried out by Federal Roads Safety Corps(FRSC), it revealed that the adoption of capacity building training in the Nigerian private sector is beneficial, as improved capacity building has positively impacted the service sector of the economy. Stating that the operating efficiency has improved greatly since the adoption of capacity building training, he added that in government parastatals, adoption of capacity building training has had an appreciable positive impact on the sector. The fear that adoption will lead to redundancy of staff, it said, was debunked by the analyses, which revealed that the adoption opened up training and employment opportunities for many employees in both sectors.

The capacity building adoption, it pointed out, opened the employment door to about 700 and 800 skilled workers in the service sector and training and retraining for existing workers in this sector.

“The impact of capacity building training adoption was noticeable in the areas of profitability which as revealed by the analysis went up to an average level of 14 per cent per year for the post adoption period considered. Other areas where the impact was significant were improvement in the operating efficiency; investment opportunities were several millions of Naira, better business prospect and a more friendly business environment,” it pointed out.

Charging policy makers to build adequate technical capability in the area of manufacturing, FRSC said, maintenance of ICT components is another area that must be of utmost interest to policy makers. “Capacity building is relegated to the background, and the desire to move along with the level of globalisation, will only make the capacity building training sector in Nigeria perpetually dependent on the developed world for survival,” it emphasised.

On his part, president, Association of Registered Insurance Agents of Nigeria (ARIAN), Mr. Ademola Ifagbayi, stressed that there is a serious need for insurance firms to train their agents and marketers, especially, now that the insurance industry is going retail. Agents, he said, has a critical role to play in the growth and development of the industry, noting that the marketing and sale of insurance products and services revolves round the agents.

He also explained that to change the negative perception of Nigerians towards insurance, the marketers of these products have to be trained on the dynamics and the latest tips of persuading the people to buy insurance policy.

“Any insurance company that refused to train its marketers will die a natural death, in an era that business dynamics keeps changing every day. Though, some underwriters may feel that if they train their agents, they might end up leaving them to work for another company, but it’s an investment worth doing. Companies must give attractive packages to agents in a bid to persuade agents to stay with them for a long time. With that, there will be a good return on their investment in these agents, while there would be value for money,” he pointed out.