By Aisha Shuaibu
Employees with the right skill set are a major key to the success of every organisation. When hiring, employers tend to place a higher value on specific skills over others, creating room for competition among new employees.
Soft skills are a basic and core set of skills needed to access work opportunities, while hard skills are specified, teachable and vary depending the industry. Although both are essential, a workforce missing core skills will cause companies to struggle and fail to catch up to a rapidly changing world.
In Nigeria, it is necessary to examine the education-to-employment journey that equips students with only theoretical knowledge and not workplace readiness skills. As a country that boasts of its resilient and creative citizens, employability skills must be incorporated into all educational curricular to truly bring out the best from our vast population of job seekers and future leaders.
There is a need to begin to instill and harness the most sought-after skills to create employment opportunities and elevate the potential of the Nigerian masses. In examining the qualities that make a person employable, Nigerians must be aware of those skills needed to succeed. Core skills are non-negotiable in the pursuit of employment opportunities.
Basic Comprehension and Communication: Measuring competence begins at comprehension. In order to determine the kind of value a person can add to an organisation, they must first have a basic understanding of the organisation’s needs and how to present themselves as the best candidates for the job.
The average human resource personnel of a small and medium enterprise (SME) in Nigeria receives over a hundred CVs when hiring. Based on the job description alone, the most eligible candidates may be slashed down by 50% from the total number of submitted applications.
After the interview stage, the best from the bunch may be further reduced and the employers will be left with the top five of the total applicants. It is likely that those who had initially applied for the role had no basic understanding of the job and how they fit into the description of the required candidate.
Another possible scenario is that during the interviews, they lacked the proper communication skills to hold a conversation, follow a straight line of questioning with straight answers, provide convincing facts on their capabilities, and prove beyond doubt that they hold the qualification as well as skills for the role.
Enrolling in a comprehension and communication training program or workshop will help develop a person’sconfidence, speech and diction when facing such opportunities.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: For product and service industries particularly, these are key skills in understanding consumer behaviour, navigating unforeseen roadblocks, and gaining a competitive advantage over others.
Creative thinking is the ability to come up with more than one way of getting things done and very often this entails a unique strategy. Although some jobs come with specified roles and expectations, the level of innovation and creativity the digital world has introduced has created room for just about anyone to add ‘critical thinker and problem solver’ to their job descriptions.
This is a strong skillset that can help organizations dominate industries, while also setting new standards for others to study and emulate. To compete and win is to be innovative and innovation is a driver of sustainable development.
Discipline and Self-Awareness: Adopting a disciplined skillset requires practice and introspection. Mastering the art of being disciplined with your time and habits is a pathway to a successful career. Employers look for individuals to entrust with certain levels of responsibility that will hardly go to those who lack the discipline to appropriately manage those duties.
There is a famous quote that says “discipline is the bridge between goal and accomplishment”, emphasising the importance of developing and maintaining the ability to be disciplined in order to attain success. The ability to be self-aware allows a person to work better with others, knowing how to be mindful, make decisions without bias and act responsively.
By being self-aware, you are conscious of your strengths and weaknesses and how to manage them in the workplace. The better a person understands their working culture, the better they will be in managing themselves and others, which is critical in shaping a strong leader. Prospective employers look out for this skill and tend to offer managerial positions to those who possess it.
Other skills such as teamwork, personal development, and capacity building are equally important for Nigerians to acquire in order to make them more employable. It is integral that educational institutions and organisations forge a collaboration in introducing programs that can be embedded into learning curricular to best prepare a person for the labour market.
The expected outcome of education is to be employable and self-reliant. Meeting classroom-learning with practical workplace experience will naturally increase professional competence, making an individual more appealing to an employer. Intervention programs and workshops that train on these skills should be accessible, affordable, and promoted to the mass population, particularly youth who continue to be directly impacted by the education gaps in Nigeria.
Shuaibu is a member of THISDAY Editorial Board