" ITREALMS: Rising skills gap in telecoms, worrisome says Bayo Azeez - ITREALMS

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Rising skills gap in telecoms, worrisome says Bayo Azeez - ITREALMS

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The need to bridge the rising skills gap in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and telecommunications sector precisely, before it escalates from an operating threat to an existential one, reports 
Rising skills gap in telecoms, worrisome says Bayo Azeez - ITREALMS
The Convener of Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFo), Mr. Omobayo Azeez, who doubles as Team Lead, Business Metrics Limited, made this call while speaking on the sideline of the 2nd edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content Expo (NTICE 2023) hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Lagos.

Speaking on ‘Bridging Skills Gap to Accelerate the Indigenous Telecoms Development’ Mr Azeez noted while the sector is growing in geometric progression, the workforce that shoulders its day-to-day operations and support is rather depleting, a development which is a ticking time bomb.

“The current existence of the skills gap puts a strain on telecom firms, limiting their ability to expand, innovate, improve customer services or develop new products,”

He also said that for the sector to continue to thrive, telecoms companies require professionals with skills in various areas such as cybersecurity, data analytics, wireless network engineering, software development, fibre optics engineering, IP networking skills, cloud computing, and VSAT engineering among others.

According to him, available data showed a high global demand for tech skilled-workers particularly in the telecoms sector. Stressing that this was why the situation has become even scarier for a low-middle income country such as Nigeria, because high-income economies that desire similar skilled labour will always have their way luring capable hands and talents from the country.

ITREALMS recalled that in 2022, operators in the sector lamented losing over 2,000 trained telecoms personnel in Nigeria to other countries.

In addition, operators are finding the gaps difficult to fill as prospective applicants often lack the required knowledge and skill set to deliver, while trained workers are leaving the country for a better offer overseas.

“This has hampered the rate at which operators recruit. For instance, operators across the GSM, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Value-Added Services (VAS), Fixed Services and other subsegments of the sector have only employed additional 679 workers in the last three years, which cannot serve licenses in the sector even at a one-to-one ratio," he said

Azeez reaffirms the need for industry stakeholders to leverage the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector (NPPIC) among other local content policies to develop homegrown talents with skill capacities that are globally competitive.

“While effective collaboration is required between government, operators,educational, research and training institutions to bridge the gaps, Azeez asserts that the process should begin with operators by putting in place training and internship programmes within their organisations to meet their immediate needs" He said.

“Operators should also review employees’ remuneration and welfare packages to retain already groomed talents before they are enticed with better offers in foreign markets because labour follows the money. Expatriate quota requirements and succession plan should also be adhered to"

He further underscored investments in employees’ training and capacity building to maximise available talents, adding that investments in the workforce should be prioritised the same way as Capital Expenditure (CAPEX).

Gbemi Omotoso/Editor

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