Jobberman earlier this month disclosed an agreement to fully acquire NGcareers.com, a foremost online destination for job vacancies, recruitment insights, and career advancement tools in Nigeria with over 1 million users as of 2019.
The acquisition combines two of the biggest online job platforms in Nigeria. For ROAM Africa, owner of Jobberman Nigeria, the deal strengthens its range of solutions for the African jobs market and furthers its market consolidation ambition with the aim to be the ultimate destination for job seekers in Africa’s most-populated country.
The consolidated platform should reach more than one million Nigerians every month, providing them better access to employment opportunities and career development tools, chief executive Clemens Weitz further tells Ventures Africa in an interview, where he discusses further on the significance of the acquisition, biggest challenges facing the African jobs market and solutions to transform recruitment and productivity in the regional workforce.
Ventures Africa: You recently acquired NGcareers, one of Nigeria’s leading online platforms for job vacancies. How did the transaction come about?
Clemens Weitz: We have ambitious goals. Jobberman Nigeria and NGcareers have been on a mission to tackle the growing disconnect between labour demand and supply with scalable technology in Nigeria for some time now.
I met the NGcareers founders about 3 years back in Lagos and was really impressed with their ability to scale their database organically. The acquisition now gives us the chance to expand and build upon the range of solutions we offered in Africa’s largest economy.
Combined, we will be connecting with more than one million Nigerians every month as we tackle the growing disconnect between labour demand and supply with scalable technology.
VA: With many businesses operating cautiously in the current economic climate, what enabled Jobberman to make such a ‘big’ acquisition?
CW: The economy may be down today, but we are here to stay. Our vision is really long-term, and we are backed by powerful investors, who see the potential in our markets, share our vision, and back us regardless of this crisis.
The acquisition is part of our goal to become THE dominant player. But also alleviate the strains of unemployment and improve workplace productivity in Nigeria. The current unemployment in Nigeria stands at 43 percent and the ongoing COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity.
This has led to an increasingly competitive market for candidates in need of end-to-end services that provide tools to prepare CVs, training programmes, interview tips, and much more, and go way beyond the conventional jobs board. Jobberman has the technology to support this demand and meet the needs of both job seekers and employers all under one roof.
ROAM Africa already has a portfolio of the most dominant recruitment solutions platforms in Africa, including Brightermonday in East Africa (focusing on Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda), Jobberman in West Africa (focusing on Nigeria and Ghana), with a network of millions of job seekers and tens of thousands of employers. The addition of NGCareers strengthens our range of solutions for the African jobs market and will enable better access to career development tools and democratisation of the recruitment process.
VA: What are your immediate and long-term plans for NGcareers? Can we expect the integration of both platforms and/or significant changes to the company as a whole?
CW: For a transition period, Jobberman Nigeria and Ngcareers will continue as independent brands, working closely together as a combined organization under the roof of ROAM Africa. The midterm goal is to serve our customers solely with the brand Jobberman.com.
VA: You have the bragging right as the business that redefined online recruitment in Nigeria. What unique advantage does NGcareers bring to Jobberman, which is already the leading online job search engine?
CW: In one word: scale. We now consolidate the search destinations for job seekers. NGcareers launched in 2009 and built a community of one million users which is no small achievement. The consolidation of Jobberman and NGcareers’ resources and expertise will make it easier to connect Nigerians to jobs and opportunities that will improve their livelihoods. Together, we will tap into Nigeria’s potential to boost the economy and workplace productivity.
VA: And the competitive landscape, what potential impact could the acquisition have on the competition in the industry?
CW: Today’s competition is actually already more global than local, with major players like Indeed, Google, or Facebook venturing into this space. Our belief is that Africa requires African-specific solutions, and we should not leave this to “Big Tech”. The added scale allows us to prove that.
African governments also have a part to play in facilitating local companies like ourselves to become successful. I think it would be economically very harmful to African governments to leave success only up to big tech companies from the United States or China.
VA: What are your views on opportunities in the recruitment industry? Do you see the possibility of more of such acquisitions over the short to long-term?
CW: We are always exploring how we can connect Africans to opportunities. If or when the right opportunities become available, we will definitely look at it. What matters to us is an established proof of concept – we are not an early-stage venture investor.
VA: What are some of the biggest challenges or problems facing the African jobs market?
CW: The African job market is very challenging, complex, and each challenge has its own nuances.
First of all, unemployment and underemployment are everywhere. But at the same time, most employers have to go through a tsunami of job applications and are struggling to find the right candidates. So there are massive gaps and impacts especially the youth and women. We see our role wider as only matching supply and demand, and are actively busy in lifting employability.
That is which is why Jobberman is heavily focused on this demographic, together with Young Nigeria Works, with a mandate to train 5 million and place 3 million in dignified work by 2025. Providing democratic access to job opportunities to people in the North as well as the South to ensure the right people are hired for jobs.
The African jobs market also largely operates offline without the use of data to inform recruitment decisions and future prospects of industries. Our platforms generate huge amounts of data every day. With Jobberman the aim is to transform that into insights, understand the future of the jobs market, and engage with all stakeholders to course-correct as fast as possible.
VA: If you were to devise a logical means that will help transform recruitment and productivity in the African workforce; what will that be?
CW: Start at the unit level: us. Organizational performance always starts with the humans in that organization. Covid-19 made many employers realize that. Now, my advice is simple: every employer that actually wants to outperform should set the goal to only hire the BEST person, and not merely the nearest person available.
I would suggest increasing transparency of the job market by primarily placing jobs online. By doing so, we can reduce nepotism and improve access to opportunities for everyone. Also, employers really should look at a few candidates before making a decision, and use data in their decision making. We see that going wrong too often.
VA: Organizations have adopted different workstyles as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. Do you expect significant changes in the online recruitment industry as a result of the pandemic?
CW: We are already seeing more employers place job opportunities on websites and candidates looking for jobs exclusively online. We also expect a rise in the gig workforce with higher numbers taking up temp jobs and remote working. This will change how the recruitment industry services candidates and employers in terms of having the right customer management systems in place.
VA: By 2035, Africa is expected to be home to the world’s largest workforce. Is the region on track to tap into and maximize this huge human resource?
CW: Unemployment and underemployment data today rather shows that we are off course. But there is hope and I am optimistic. Africa needs to have the right systems and structures in place to provide adequate job opportunities for its population. Important initiatives like the Free Trade Agreement, manufacturing initiatives, and highlighting of the education sector need to be continued.
We need to tap into a wealth of data that is already available which can provide the insight to assist institutions to structure curriculums and vocational training programmes for sectors with strong employability. We also need to equip young people with the right skill set to position them to take advantage of opportunities. I am convinced that if all parties at the table hustle, the world will be surprised by a rapidly rising Africa, just like it was from China decades ago.
VA: What is your outlook for the future workplace on the continent?
CW: Actually positive mid-term, despite and because of the crisis.
Conversations with our employment partners suggest that companies have already begun to adopt a new culture of working and the impact of COVID-19 is driving this faster than it would have naturally. There is more emphasis on work-life balance and remote/flexible working is now part of the new normal for most organisations.
I think these trends are here to stay and organisations that are able to provide the working environments that employees desire will be setting themselves up for long term success, both in terms of recruitment and retention. We will also see an increase in temping and freelanced contracts, especially in the creative and digital industries where jobs can be project-based.