Olawale Adediran is the President and Chairman of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM). He speaks with Daily Trust on the disruption of the order of work and the economy as a result of digital evolution. He also dissects the issues of Value Added Tax (VAT) and tolls; and how the policies will stir up the economy.
Why do you think it is important for Human Resources (HR) practitioners to reinvent in this digital era?
The core objectives of the 2019 CIPM annual conference are several areas of human capital development that we are committed to pursuing as an institute. Clearly for us, the conference is the apex planning at the end of the year.
So we believe the workplace is changing, the nature of work is changing. The professionals that create the environment for work to be done must therefore adapt their skills to ensure that they are able to drive the same objectives in that new work place structure. The workforce too is changing. 75 per cent of the workforce around the world would be those born from year 1983 to 85 till date as from next year, maximum by 2025. So we are saying in the next five years, we would have all those being referred to as millennials and Gen Z being the majority of the workforce.
In fact, as from next year, half of the workforce would be from that generation. There are peculiarities of that generation – they are digital natives, they have some other attributes that make them active and creative, they want to explore, unlike the generations before them that would follow rules and adhere to structures and policies. So those of us who are in the profession of creating work culture, creating a productive culture for people to add value, we need to shift our thinking. We need a paradigm shift in the way we approach our role; that is why we need to change the game. So the disruption is coming from those radical changes that would happen in the nature of the workforce and in the nature of work itself, because with robotics, artificial intelligence and so on and so forth, so many jobs as we know them today will disappear, then the changing nature of the workplace itself.
Can you give an insight into some of the disruptions?
There is disruption that would be coming in terms of the demography of the workforce and the peculiarities of the majority of the 21st Century; disruption in terms of the changing nature of the workplace which is no longer a place but rather a platform for people to work; the disruption that would come as a result of the changes in work itself. Most of what we do today that constitute high paying jobs may no longer remain the same or may even disappear completely. We have done is to ensure that we equip our members with the knowledge and skills they require to make people productive to deliver value. Whatever we had then in support of the typing profession have become obsolete, in actual fact they have become extinct. So what we are preparing our members for at this year’s conference themed: “Disruption: Change the Game”, is an understanding of those disruptions that would change the way HR management had been working and would now be working, and also to equip them with new set of skills.
For instance, HR used to be a profession where those who did not like numbers could find solace. Today, the opposite is the case, and going forward into the 21st Century, the opposite would be the case. HR would require now people with ability to speak to numbers, that’s why HR analytics would be something of a focus over the next few years.
In the area of optimising the capacity of HR in the public sector for instance, how do you think the federal and state governments have fared?
I am proud to say that in our country, we have sound people-management processes, but also, we have some gaps that we need to close. If you look at what we have been doing to collaborate with the public sector; starting from the federal level to the various state governments, we have been helping in that direction, direction of identifying those gaps and helping to put the right system in place.
As we speak, we are collaborating with the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and the Head of Service has assigned a key Permanent Secretary in her office to work with us on revamping the performance management system for instance. This is part of the civil service reform agenda of the Head of Service.
We have also been working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the project called Financial Sector Strategy 2020 (FSS2020) where we are helping with the competency framework for the financial sector, and a lot of progress is being made in that regard as well. We have been collaborating with the Lagos State Government right from about 10 years ago when the sitting governor was the Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pension, and we made a lot of progress in professionalising the admin and HR cadre in Lagos State. We are taking that to the next level now.
What is your view on the constitution of the Economic Council by the president?
We commend the president’s effort in stirring the economy of the country on a faster pace of growth. We believe that a lot of due diligence must have been carried out before the president eventually decided on the constitution of that team. Looking at the membership of the team, they are highly respected Nigerians, highly respected economists, and we strongly believe that if they are given the space, they would definitely add a lot of value to ensuring an accelerated growth of the economy of our country.
Having said that, we strongly believe that the advisory council does not in any way replace entirely the National Economic Council (NEC). So we believe it should complement NEC, because whatever advice they provide, you would still need the inter-ministerial structure that would put force to whatever they put forward because they are not executive appointees, they are not in executive capacity. It is an advisory council. So you still need to execute whatever they come up with. But we commend the president because we believe it is a demonstration of his burning desire to quickly stir the economy back on the fast-track of growth.
Some people believe government is trying to overtax the people by increasing VAT and reintroducing tolls on the highways, what is your reaction?
First, we are not aware the government is introducing tolls yet. They are trying to review VAT and they are justifying it with what is happening in the ECOWAS sub-region; which we are also aware of; the rates outside our country, talk of Ghana and other countries. However, Nigeria is not those countries. Our situation differs from what obtains in those countries, and for that reason, we only ask that for the sake of the people in the country, for the sake of the companies that provide employment to our people who may feel the heavy crunch or weight of any of these economic policy changes, the government needs to critically review this before putting action to it. The good news is that the government is already doing that.