Africa’s single largest job placement platform, Jobberman has since its inception championed the rise of a better Nigeria by connecting thousands of qualified candidates to reputable employers. The platform has helped over 50,000 Nigerians find their dream jobs.

To further solve the problem of unemployment, Jobberman is hosting the largest virtual career fair in Nigeria with the aim of connecting 10,000 highly qualified job seekers, also known as “Jobberman Champions” with 250 potential employers from diverse industries. With a focus on the agri-tech, digital and creative sectors, the fair will serve as a platform to give participants an avenue to gain access to career opportunities across different sectors.

In an exclusive interview with Ventures Africa, Femi Balogun, the Monitoring and Education Specialist at Jobberman, shares some of insight on the fair alongside his role and experience working with Jobberman.

Ventures Africa (VA) : How do you ensure balance and efficiency in the execution of your role? 

Femi Balogun (FB) : My work is guided by specific core values which includes respect, integrity, synergy and excellence. These values raise my consciousness on a daily basis in relation to ensuring balance and efficiency in my role. For instance, showing respect requires that we do more listening than talking to ensure that the views, experiences, hopes and aspirations of beneficiaries, clients, funders, partners and colleagues are appreciated in all MERL (Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning) efforts. Demonstrating integrity helps me to ensure that the rigor of our data collection and analysis methodologies are not compromised, while also being objective about what we are learning as this can help to generate value from our constituents and improve our bottom line of impact, income and influence. In terms of synergy, we are deliberate about collaborating closely with colleagues, beneficiaries, partners and funders. This helps to ensure that our reporting and the evidence that emerges from this is inclusive and useful to all stakeholders. To deliver excellence requires constant feedback, learning and timely use of insights to shape and adapt strategies. We exist in a constantly changing context, hence we are constantly reviewing our logic and theories to deliver excellence now and tomorrow.

VA : As the monitoring and Education specialist at Jobberman, what has been the biggest challenge in executing your role? 

FB: I think the biggest question for me (and not necessarily a challenge) is being able to project a balanced perspective in all our reports and knowledge products. My role requires me to communicate programmatic alternatives to inform decision making based on a reflection on the evidence of what works and what can be done differently. Doing this means that we have to listen to what has been said and what has not been said; interpret the data based on what it means now and the implications for the future, for instance. These are some of the questions that we have to constantly reflect on and engage many times. However, finding answers raises more questions, as the lines between right and wrong are blurred. Also, COVID-19 has taught us that predicting tomorrow requires a bit more reflection. This essentially is a reflection of the nature of the questions that shape our work. Within academic settings, the problem of unemployment is described as a ‘wicked problem’ – because they are problems that can hardly be removed from society.

VA : A few companies like Google have placed advanced skill specialization over educational degrees as a qualification determinant for employment and this may soon become regular. How is Jobberman positioning itself to work during times of significant change in the job market? 

FB: As an organization we are aware that the landscape of youth employment will continue to be shaped by the dynamics of technology, demographics, globalization and socioeconomic shifts. We are constantly looking to identify and understand how these shifts are shaping the labour market, particularly how it is driving demand for skills and the kinds of composition that employers require. Hence, positioning ourselves to these changes means that we are aware of these shifts and tailor our products and solutions to meet what the market demands.

VA : What are the challenges faced in sourcing talent/qualified candidates for client firms? 

FB: For me I will twist this question a bit and respond to how we are innovating to ensure that our clients/employers get qualified talent in the midst of an employability crisis. More than before we are finding that employers are demanding for job seekers that are adaptable, creative, innovative, collaborative, can problem solve quickly and communicate effectively. To meet this demand we have recently developed a free soft skills training to up skill job seekers on our platform. We piloted the training in May 2020 and have trained over 30,000 job seekers since then. From our research on what works in soft skills development, having a workforce of employees who have mastered key soft skills reduces employer costs in recruitment, training time and employee turnover, and improves employee performance on bottom line business metrics, such as higher sales and better consumer service. At the same time, we have developed top hiring products like Pro-Recruit, Skills Assessments, Job Boost, Executive Recruitment amongst others to meet employer demands. With these products we are able to provide recruitment solutions that are tailored to employer specifications.

VA : Can you tell us more about Jobberman’s partnership with Mastercard Foundation and the outcome so far? 

FB: The year 2020 reminds us that we are just 10 years away from the 2030 deadline mark to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Critical to realizing this global agenda is the need to provide an enabling environment where young people can develop relevant skills and transition into meaningful jobs that enables them to live long and live well. This aspiration informs our partnership with the Mastercard Foundation on the Young Nigeria Works (YNW) project. The project was launched in January 2020 as a subset of the broader ‘Young Africa Works’ (YAW) strategy of the Mastercard Foundation and it sets the ambitious goal to train 5 million young people (at least 50% young women) and link 3 million of these young people to employment opportunities across multiple sectors including agriculture, digital and the creative sectors over the next five years (ending in 2025). The project undertakes a combination of activities that seek to expose job seekers to relevant training, give them visibility and link them to potential employers. It is underpinned by various innovative solutions embedded in technology, research and community engagement with policy actors, the private sector, academia and development partners. As part of the initiatives of the project, we are hosting the largest virtual career fair in Nigeria with the aim of connecting 10,000 highly qualified job seekers, also known as “Jobberman Champions”, with 250 potential employers, to gain access to career opportunities across all sectors, with a focus on the agri-tech, digital and creative sectors. A platform established out of the need to create a cost-effective approach to recruitment and build meaningful connections within our industries.

VA : As a middle man between companies and job seekers, can you tell us the impact of the pandemic on the country’s employment index? 

FB: There is still some speculation in relation to how the pandemic is influencing the employment landscape. However, a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics suggests that unemployment has risen from 21% in Q3’2018 to 27% in Q2’2020. From the report, young people are said to be worse off than any other age group as combined unemployment for youth between ages 15 – 34 years moved up from 55% in Q3’2018 to 63% in Q2’2020. what this means is that only 1 in 3 Nigerian youth is in full employment. While it may be true that unemployment is on the rise, it is also important to mention that the pandemic has accelerated the uptake of tech-based modes of working as more businesses have been forced to move their operations online. Because of this, there is an increase in the demand for roles that were hitherto not popular. Some of the in-demand roles includes; Social Media Community Manager, Digital Marketing Specialist, Tele-sales, Tele-medicine officers.

VA : Tell us about the challenges faced in putting this fair together? 

FB: Just like other organizations, the pandemic has introduced the new normal, which in this context refers to reducing the extent of physical interaction and helping us to reflect and innovate around how we interact online. Fortunately for Jobberman, we had migrated our operations online even before the outbreak of the pandemic. Hence, organizing a Virtual Career Fair is not new. Rather, we are learning new ways on how to onboard both employers and job seekers on the platform that will host the event. So far, it has been an interesting journey as we pick up exciting lessons around how to help organizations move away from traditional modes of organizing career fairs.

VA : Tell us about the company’s efforts in easing the effects of the pandemic on either job seekers or employers?

FB: We are aware of the impact the pandemic is having on businesses. We are also learning that a number of organizations are cutting salaries, reducing recruitment and training costs and in some cases letting go of current staff. Because we see our clients as partners, we took a bold step to make job listings free on our platform to demonstrate our commitment to both our clients and job seekers. According to Hilda Kragha (CEO at Jobberman and MD Jobs at ROAM Africa) – We wanted to make sure that at this difficult time, we are still doing our best to connect job seekers and employers.

VA : Who are some of your partner organizations for the career fair? 

FB: In putting this event together, we are collaborating with:

  • Lagos state government
  • German Corporation
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • SKYE – Skills development for youth employment
  • Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA)

Today, Jobberman has moved beyond a platform established out of the need to create a cost effective approach to recruitment and build meaningful connections within our industries, but much more into a course to make dreams become reality.

In the words of Ilkin Santak, true charity is not giving bread or money but providing employment.” Truly, as a leading organization in the recruitment industry, Jobberman has helped thousands get employed and the journey has only begun.

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