As more of the continent benefits from economic growth that is the envy of the world, Africa’s need for professional talent to fulfil its potential is a great as ever. With recent surveys by the likes of PwC and EY concluding that the availability of skills remains a key concern for CEOs operating in the region, the race is on for employers to make the most of all available pools of exceptional African talent.
Enter into this story Global Career Company, for 13 years the recruiters of African talent from around the world. Their November 2014 Careers in Africa Summit in Johannesburg was attended by more than 600 professionals from across the SADC looking for opportunities in their home countries with more than 15 recruiting employers. Headline sponsor Citi stood out among the employers, with a delegation headed by Sub-Saharan Africa CEO Ade Ayeyemi. As the Careers in Africa series moves on to London in May 2015, key trends in the sourcing of African talent to meet the needs of businesses can be observed.
The Careers in Africa Summit in London was first held in 2002, when Global Career Company was founded on the premise that the best talent for African business was African. This is a theme picked up by EY in their recent ‘Realising Potential’ study, where it was observed that the replacement of expatriates with African talent is a key objective for business leaders. Certainly, expatriate talent has played, and continues to play a valuable role in African business, particularly when organisations focus on knowledge and skills transfer so what is brought by the expatriate workforce is built on by local talent, but the future of African business lies elsewhere.
Where Careers in Africa in London fits into this picture is in the recruitment of the skilled Diaspora for roles in Africa. With more and more employers looking to the Diaspora as a talent pool, the organisations that have supported Global Career Company’s initiative since 2002 are those ahead of the curve.
At London, those organisations will include longstanding Careers in Africa participants Nigerian Breweries and Lafarge, who are among the main sponsors in 2015. The participation of both is a perfect example of the diversity of talent available to African business in London, and the range of opportunities presented to that talent. These firms will join up to 30 others, representing a cross section of African regions and industries. Finance, the most prominent sector at Johannesburg in 2014, will again feature heavily in London, given that city’s status as a financial hub, with FMCG, ICT, Professional Services and Agri-Business institutions also looking to recruit from an attendee pool of around 1,000 pre-selected African professionals through arranged and spontaneous interviews.
This format, candidate pre-selection and interview pre-scheduling, preferred by Global Career Company since its inception, is one the company believes in very deeply, not just, says Client Services Director Sana Chakir, for the recruiting efficiency it brings supporting clients,
“We believe that serious African professionals should be attending our events for serious recruitment opportunities. Of course, this favours our clients, who want to spend their time engaging with the types of professionals they are really looking for, but it is our firm belief that even in an event setting, the talent gap will be closed by a proper recruitment process, and that our candidates deserve nothing less.”
This is something Chakir feels is more important than ever, particularly now that increasing numbers employers are seeing the potential of the Diaspora as a talent source.
“While the increased awareness has certainly benefitted Global Career Company, it has also created a few event and recruitment companies trying to do similar things. Increased competition is a good thing when it’s reflective of greater opportunities for our candidates, but not all recruitment agencies holding events for the Diaspora are providing what we feel is a really serious recruitment option, preferring instead to focus on career fairs, exhibitions and speed dating.”
Chakir is adamant that the value of the Diaspora as a talent source will only be realised if the recruitment approach is not mishandled, as both candidates and clients are disappointed when interactions are not of the required standard. Indeed, Global Career Company is taking steps in 2015 to ensure that the quality of Diaspora recruitment processes and propositions continues to increase within its own pool of partners and clients, by hosting its Talent Agenda Series conference in London alongside the Summit.
“At the conference,” comments Chakir, “HR leaders come together to discuss best practices and work out how they can successfully bring the best African talent into their organisations. This year differentiation is going to be a key theme.”
Differentiation for employers, recruitment agencies and candidates, as in a competitive talent market, the best employers get the best talent, who get the best roles, and all but the best agencies are left behind. Perhaps best is the wrong word here, though, as this differentiation is not only about excellence, but also fit; rightness.
“Employers and prospective employees need to differentiate themselves from the other options out there,” says Chakir. “We are all looking to prove that we can be successful together, and that is not just about our skills and qualifications, but also how we are able to engage one another, to be the right cultural fit, to be interested in working together for the long term.”
This process begins long before an employee starts life with an employer. For their part, candidates are seeking to market their skills, their personality and beliefs as effectively as possible from the application stage. The employer too is trying to showcase a proposition, known as an Employer Value Proposition or Talent Brand, which is attractive to the type of talent it is looking for.
At the Careers in Africa Summit in London, this engagement will begin in earnest in the pre-Summit branding and application process, before moving into the exhibition room and interviews. Here employers looking to make the most of growth opportunities in Africa will find the people who will do it for them, as the race to recruit the best African talent heats up once again.
15th Careers in Africa Recruitment Summit, London, 15-17th May 2015
Apply online at careersinafrica.com