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Onus on employers to develop African talent

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While many global companies are expanding – or seeking to expand – in Africa, the availability and retention of talent is proving to be one of the main challenges facing growth and expansion on the continent.

According to Lebo Tseladimitlwa, vice-president: human resources at DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, talent is perceived to be one of the major challenges facing business leaders in the region, with 83% of African CEOs admitting that they are especially worried about availability of key skills on the continent.

Tseladimitlwa says that in addition to this statistic, the PWC Africa Business Agenda1 report also reveals that most CEOs expect to increase and maintain staff headcount in the next year. “In Africa’s competitive labour environment, these statistics highlight that attracting and developing the right skills is crucial.”

She adds that it is therefore important to adopt leadership styles which will support and nurture the skills and talent needed for growth. “Essentially, talent will no longer be the main concern when it comes to employees’ skill-sets, but rather the leader’s ability and responsibility to teach and develop these skills.”

A recent EY survey reported that, while managers in Africa are perceived to be performing well at day-to-day operational activities, they are considered to be less capable when it comes to people management, especially in relation to retention, productivity and engagement.

“Globally, it is reported that only one in five companies are providing additional training and development to existing staff, proving that employers are not doing enough to address talent shortages,” says Tseladimitlwa. “In Africa, these efforts are likely to be significantly less when compared to the rest of the world, and therefore intensifies the need for programs to be implemented.”

She says DHL considers its Employee Engagement programmes to be critical to our business success. “Understanding the need to drive a common culture across 220 countries and territories, we launched a Certified International Specialists (CIS) learning and development program for all 3 500 staff in DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa. Everyone from the global CEO to a courier in any country has gone through this training program reinforcing our core competencies as an organisation. CIS training has been central to our staff retention and development globally.

“Certified International Manager (CIM) is an extension of CIS, and is focused on ensuring that we have leaders with the correct balance between IQ and EQ to lead tomorrow’s workforce. Each module targets various behaviours and leadership practices; for example, CIM1 is centred around respect-focused behaviours and getting results without comprising respect,” she explains.

Tseladimitlwa urges employers in Africa to foster a continuous learning and development culture and encourage employees to be masters of their own destiny. “As competition on the continent for human talent increases, companies need to work even harder on their talent strategies.”