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Oracle, CWG, Others Proffer Ways to End IT Skill Shortages

Technology has been unanimously accepted by experts in the Information Technology Industry (ICT) as an available first-rate resource in Nigeria which will lose its flavor without adequate skill set apart to harness the window of potentials.

This subsume the direction of the panelists comprising Country Managing Director of Oracle Nigeria, Adebayo Sanni, Chief Executive Officer, Computer Warehouse Group,(CWG), Mr. Austin Okere, Director General, Lagos State Financial Systems Management Bureau, Abdulahmed Mustapha, and Director, Software at Edo State Information Communication Technology (ICT) Agency, Toju Onaiwu, at the just concluded Oracle Corporation Roundtable held in Lagos, as they also canvassed that both Federal and State Government must not shy away from the efficacies of using ICTs to salvage the economy from excess dependent on oil and gas.

Sanni said in the course of the discussion that although many may be watching the tumbling oil price with dismay, but in a positive way the loss of oil revenues has compelled the country to give more attention to other areas of the economy, including technology.

He highlighted that the country will perform better in the IT space with the necessary skill sets, especially with the private and public sector working harmoniously to ensure the teeming youths in the country are properly equipped.

Oracle Nigeria boss cited the recent survey by the Centre for Business Innovation, (CBI) which revealed that 39 per cent of firms are already struggling to recruit workers with the advanced Technical Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills they need, and four per cent of firms believe that the shortage will persist over the next three years.

He lamented that in the software and applications development space there is a shortage of developers, especially in Nigeria where the digital economy is expected to grow exponentially.

Sanni said that Oracle in partnership with Lagos State have just completed phase two of the Lagos State Workforce Development Programme, to assist in training graduates on Oracle Database or Oracle E-Business Suite.

According to him, the programme provides graduates with opportunities to acquire industry-relevant skills and internships within the private sector and in some of the State’s ministries.

Oracle Nigeria, he said also offers hands-on internships at its office situated in Lagos, Abuja, and other African countries, to grow a pipeline of fresh business and ICT talent for Oracle and its West African ecosystem, which has given rise to 12 interns currently being engaged at Oracle Nigeria.

In his words: “These are just two examples of initiatives that Oracle, as a local employer, is driving to support the creation of a technical savvy workforce – other programs include supporting universities and women in leadership activities.

“Technology is no doubt changing the way we live and work around the world and specifically in Nigeria.Public and private organizations have a responsibility to work together to help young people acquire key business and IT skills that can help them in turn to cultivate long-term success”.

Interestingly, he noted, that individuals, companies and governments are already using technology to innovate, bringing a fresh approach to creating new businesses or boosting growth in industries that make up the Nigerian economy.

Speaking at the roundtable, Group Chief Executive Officer, Computer Warehouse Group, (CWG) Mr. Austin Okere, said that the Company, which is now a Group, discovered at the early stage of the business that skill sets are preconditions to delivering quality products and services to the customers, adding that the idea gave birth to CWG Academy for training and retraining of CWG staff and those from the partners’ circles.

“This singular idea is now helping original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) galvanize the skills aspects of their business. Even the Lagos Business School has been receiving support from us in the form of tools; we engage the best graduates and release others to help partners and Governments to get their IT practices right.

“We worked with the World Bank to connect students in research institutions and universities. Today, there are 27 universities connected via NgREN and others on the verge of joining,” Okere said.

Okere described Oracle Systems as ‘no-brainers’; requiring just interests from the youths to excel.

On his part, Director General, Lagos State Financial Systems Management Bureau, Abdulahmed Mustapha affirmed that the army of unemployed youths portends a great danger as a nation seated on a keg of gunpowder; hence the Lagos State Government has continued to work with Oracle to find better ways to serve the citizens.

Mustapha recalled that in 2001 the government of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu made moves for the computerization of the accounting processes which resulted in the increase of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from N600million to presently N25billion monthly.

Mustapha said, “Oracle Systems have helped us keep our money well in terms of record keeping, which springs over to infrastructural development. In Lagos with about 20 million populations, every Lagosian needs one service or the other. So, technology is the only apparatus that will help less than 200,000 government workers to deliver services to the people and promptly.

“Today, Lagos State Public Service Staff Development Centre (LSPSSDC) has Oracle tools to train workers and develop youths for skills that will benefit the government and other OEMs. Banks are retrenching, telecoms are looking for ways to balance their books, so, when they are not employing, how do we keep the people’s hopes high, as a government? Currently, we are working with University Of Lagos (UniLag), Lagos State University, (LASU), Lagos State Polytechnic, (LASPOTECH) and other tertiary institutions in the State to even get the lecturers ready, because skills transfer is important”.

He maintained that the IT developmental agenda of Governor Babatunde Fashola will be sustained by the in-coming administration, adding that, “We have a 25-year developmental plan from where every government in the State draws its aspiration and ICT takes centre stage in the document”.

Speaking in the vein, Director, Software at Edo State ICT Agency, Toju Onaiwu, said that the Agency was established to booster the knowledge economy of the State.

Onaiwu said, “About six years ago when we came in, the Governor Adams Oshomole felt the need to identify key developmental areas, which led to the four-years short term and eight-years long term agenda on using ICT to drive business and governance.

“Right from 2009, we identified Oracle solutions have helped us in the areas of auditing and scrutinizing the workforce for ghost workers, saving N2billion in the first year. Procurement and payment systems are done using Oracle system”.

He said the Government also identified skill sets shortage as setback to actualizing the targets but has succeeded in recruiting youths to aid the Government in that regard.

It will be recalled thattechnology was revealed to have added six billion jobs even world economy increased by $193billion at the World Economic Forum 2014.

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