David Ageba is a career coach and founder of a UK tech-based company that is into helping to develop careers in ICT. In this interview with ENE OSHABA, he stresses the need for the country’s workforce to completely go digital in order to reduce the cost of doing business.
What is Advance Career UK?
We are a career transformation organisation that focuses on building technology skills for individuals, companies, government, and non-governmental organisations with the aim of enabling a more solution-based workforce conscious of bringing new ideas that would transform the economy.
Advance Careers UK is currently based in the UK and we are working on Our Nigeria branch which would be called Advance Career NG. We also hope to have branches in America and Canada.
We have trained many organisations in Nigeria and we build skills. Advance Career UK transforms graduates and non-graduates and provides them with work experiences through a UK based company to excel in their careers. We first place our students in a career ready programme for six weeks where you learn skills. We are basically in a tech revolution and if you don’t have tech skills in the next 5-10 years, your services might not be in demand.
How would you assess Nigeria’s reception to ICT?
I think our reception to ICT is the highest in the whole world and our youth both home and abroad are doing amazing things. Aside being the biggest technology hub in Africa, I see Nigeria competing with the biggest technology countries in the next 10-15 years.
One thing that must be understood is that our most valuable resource is human and not oil or agriculture. Youths are doing amazing works in this area. Though there is a huge gap between those who are technology savvy and those who are not; however, those with tech and ICT skills are doing well. We can all see that mobile applications developed by Nigerian tech companies are acceptable globally so Nigeria is the next tech hub in the world.
Do you mean that there is adequate ICT knowledge and skills in Nigeria?
I’m saying that Nigeria is doing her bit to adopt technology, for example, the e-naira was launched recently, national identity, and banking system have centralised database and digitised to transact easily today. Nigeria has lots of e-payment companies which enable e-commerce. We don’t just rely on pay pal or other global payment providers, but we have homegrown payment processing apps like PayStack, Quickteller, Fluttterwave and e-commerce like Jumia and Konga. However, I don’t think we appreciate how far we have come with limited resources. Companies that are not being driven by tech right now face huge overhead cost; for example, taking documents around physically amounts to time wastage; in the process, change has become very important.
Why are you advocating digitisation?
Any Nigerian that wants a better standard of living, a career in the IT industry offers a means to achieve that because I did and it is working for me.I’m also concerned with how Nigerian can compete globally not just as human resource, but as creators of software products that solve human problems just like I’m solving the problem of lack of tech skills. I’m hoping to see some of my students produce products that would be globally accepted. The education system in Nigeria needs uplifting. I relocated to UK to expose myself to international standard of education. I had my first degree in Nigeria before proceeding to the UK. After achieving my goals, I thought there was the need for me to give back to my country the knowledge I have gained in the last 10-12 years. Nigerians need to understand that the processes from graduation to finding a well-paid job require work experience. Advance Career UK has six steps CLAPPEG process. We help you get clarity about career choice, acquire highly demanded skills, gain practical work experience, positions you as an expert, helps you to excel and grow to become a top tech earner.
I want people to know that training alone would not take you to the finishing line; that is why Advance Career is here to assist.
Who needs ICT?
Both corporate organisations and individuals need IT knowledge. I mentioned digital transformation earlier; this does not happen without first transforming the workforce.
If you deploy a new application and nobody can uses it, it becomes a waste which costs a lot. When you transform your process as an organisation with well-trained experts working hand in hand to help organisations achieve their goals, those goal would be achieved. So everybody needs digital skills.
Banks have been doing a great job in the last five years. Most of them have functional mobile applications, so you don’t go to banking hall or use PC at home to do transactions any longer but on the go, any type of transactions can be performed on mobile application. Everyone needs to adopt tech skills to make Nigeria more competitive because the more tech experts we have, the more ideas that can be generated to develop digital products and solve manual processes.
How affordable is digital skills with Advance Career UK?
If you are in a low pay job you need skills and experience to find well paid job. Paying for online courses alone may not be enough, you need experts you can engage with directly to ask questions, to mentor and train you. So, if you want to transit from low paid job to high paid one, you need advance skills. With that, you don’t need a godfather to ger a job. Organisations need experts who can use technology to achieve their goals. If you pay for Advance Career services, you get 10 times value in terms of profit. You lower cost and increase profit.
The 2023 election is drawing closer and Nigerians are yearning for digitisation of the electoral processes. What is your take on this and how can your company support this?
We have tech people around the globe that could help electoral body and government achieve a free and fair election.The Nigerian Senate passed a bill on electronic transmission which was sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for approval and I think that would come in handy. Electronic voting can enable everyone to be captured in database; so if you adopt electronic voting, you cannot vote twice or have cases of rigging. It only takes seconds for votes to be captured in the centralised database; nobody can vote twice because the system would automatically delete the second vote.
What other areas would you advise Nigerians about ICT?
Everybody must change, we have been hearing about digital transformation a long time and Covid-19 made it obvious. Last year, most international conferences were held remotely using teleconference and government organisations didn’t have to travel long miles to hold meetings, yet it was effective. Covid-19 has made business organisations, government agencies, charity organisations to adopt tech in delivering their services. It is now obvious that you must use tech efficiently to manage organisations else, competition would wipe you away.
Both graduates and undergraduates should know that the era of white-collar jobs is gone. Even in the banks, some of the highly paid are those in tech. Several bank branches have been closed down in UK because of tech and this would happen in Nigeria very soon, if it’s not happening already. This is because there is no need to run that overhead in terms of resources when you have fewer people entering banks for transaction. Gradually, there would be less demand for marketers because banks would rely on digital marketing to create account so, instead of engaging 200 people to generate 1,000 you can write one code and generate a software that can generate 200,000 accounts which marketers do before. White-collar job is fizzling out and tech is taking over.
What roles can government play to provide employment for citizens in the ICT sector?
Government can provide grants for unemployed youths to become tech savvy. In UK, for instance, the government has a scheme where they provide internship with tech companies and pay one to study tech.Companies like ours can partner government to train youths to become self-reliant, tech savvy in order to solve problems.