African talent replacing expats

The shortage of talented managers to run the industries fueling Africa’s growth is high on the agenda of HR managers. Sarah Roe of Global Career Company sees a clear trend of multinationals wanting to attract African talent back from the diaspora. “To solve their management and technical skill shortages, companies need to discover how to attract African professionals back home and, more importantly, retain them.”

Cost and quality are just two of the advantages to recruiting talented Africans from graduate schools and international business schools, according to Sarah Roe. The traditional expat system of ‘importing’ managers from the home company is becoming increasingly expensive. “Anyone who makes it through international business school is smart, hard-working, entrepreneurial and ambitious,” says Sarah. “With so many talented African professionals coming out of business schools, multinationals know they don’t have to compromise on quality”.
African candidates with an international background can make a major impact on business practice and standards at home. “An MBA can be a fantastic role model and set a different tone in the local context,” says Sarah. “Our experience is that Africans returning to the continent are not just looking for a job in their own market but a regional career pathway. This understanding and empathy with the ‘local’ market gives them a major advantage.”

Social impact is key motivator

Global Career Company started working with companies in Africa in 2003, placing graduates from the major business schools and universities. Over 1 million African candidates are now registered on its database. In 2015 GCC conducted the first Careers in Africa study to discover exactly what motivates African professionals in their career choices, and help employers adjust their employee value propositions accordingly.
The survey, conducted by in association with Willis Towers Watson, global HR consultants, and African Business magazine, yielded 14,000 completed questionnaires. The results of the follow- up survey in late 2016 are still being processed, but it’s clear that making a social impact is a key motivator.

“African employees are still attracted to the big multinational brands, but we’re also seeing growing interest in organizations in the development space. Respondents mention The African Development Bank, Afreximbank, the Aga Khan foundation and IFC as potentially interesting employers. The World Bank group moved up 12 places from the first survey, underlining the importance of contributing to the development of Africa as an element of the employer value proposition.”
The established players in the oil and gas industry are still considered attractive employers despite the downturn in the sector. Possibly because of their well-established graduate programmes and opportunities for training. “Learning and development is a key motivator for African professionals. When they return to work in Africa, it’s not just for the money. They want to further their personal growth, and put something back into their country.”

Angola down, Ethiopia up

Of course no two countries are alike. Professional labour market needs change depending on the economic conjunction and trends in particular industries. “Angola was a booming market for us for a long time on the back of gas and oil,” says Sarah. “Now we’re seeing more growth in markets like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and Ivory Coast. South Africa and Kenya remain stable.”

Tech skill shortage

The one factor binding all the countries and sectors is the shortage of skilled digital professionals. Although that’s not just an African problem: industries all over the world are in competition for tech skills. “To attract Africans with these skills, companies would do well to display their social impact credentials and self-development opportunities, as well as the pay scales,” says Sarah.

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