Talent Wars

Bloomberg Joins Amazon & Microsoft In Wooing Wantaway Nigerian Talent

By  |  September 22, 2022

John Oyegbite says he got an offer from Bloomberg last October, fresh from bagging a first-class degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Lagos.

Almost a year after he moved to London to work as a software engineer at the world-renowned financial, software, data, and media company, he’s encouraging fresh Nigerian STEM graduates and soon-to-be graduates of local universities to explore a similar path given that Bloomberg’s Africa Campus Recruiting programme has now launched a renewed charm offensive on Nigerian talent.

“If you are a student from any university in your Penultimate or Final year or a graduate with few years of experience in the tech industry and with a strong understanding of data structures and algorithms, then you should take the Hackerrank test,” Oyegbite tweeted, encouraging compatriots to take the steps necessary in the build-up to interviews and a boot-camp that Bloomberg is hosting in Lagos next month.

Successful applicants can expect to be relocated to the United Kingdom as Bloomberg is recruiting for its London offices, and this is unlikely to be a deal-breaker – perhaps it’s even more like a deliberate, welcome perk – given the unfolding phenomenon that has Nigerians with various qualifications increasingly opting to relocate.

The emigration wave that has Nigerians exiting the country or chasing plans to do so is part of a wider phenomenon popularised by the local term “Japa” (which generally translates to “run fast” in the Yoruba language).

This underlines ongoing frantic efforts by an educated but disenchanted Nigerian middle-class – among which are professionals in medicine, technology, finance, engineering, and academics – to escape the country’s shoddy leadership, harrowing insecurity, and the worsening economic situation.

For one, a country-wide strike has kept Nigeria’s public universities shuttered since February with no respite in sight despite intermittent negotiations and a recent court ruling, and over a million students remain out of school and stranded. 

Besides that, a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center showed 45 percent of Nigerian adults surveyed said they planned to leave the country within the next five years; 50 percent of Nigerians said they were relocating to escape violence.

Bloomberg’s notably specific hiring drive appears to be the latest in a series of efforts by global tech firms to tap that exit-hungry talent base. Indeed, over the past months, new recruitment programmes backed by Big Tech names like Microsoft and Amazon – offering tech jobs to promising talents from Nigeria and relocating them to Canada, Ireland, and the U.S. – have opened up new pipelines.

While lower labour cost is often cited as a key factor fanning the interest of Silicon Valley in talents groomed in less-developed markets, it is worth noting that the talent base in Africa – while relatively small compared to Asia, for instance – does have a certain appeal to employers in Europe and North America due to proven competence, language, time-zone, and culture concordance.

On the other hand, there are several reasons for Nigerians and other Africans to provide their skills to the rest of the globe. It’s hard to ignore the much greater income; also, those who relocate to developed countries benefit from better infrastructure, security, healthcare, and educational opportunities for themselves and their loved ones.

The inadvertent, resultant effect is a situation in which the competition for already-scarce tech talents in the blossoming African tech ecosystem is heightened even further, sparking cheer in some quarters and discomfort in others.

The latter is founded on concerns that African tech, having clawed in billions of dollars in funding in recent years, is experiencing a worrying talent shortage as qualified workers remain hard to find across tech and non-tech roles. In Kenya, for instance, there have been reports of how the deepening interests of global tech giants (read: Microsoft, Visa, Google) in the country have triggered a talent deluge away from startups and towards those big firms.

However, while such an effort by big tech firms could possibly shake the scene, it might also hold benefits for the ecosystem long term. Local ventures could eventually have access to a wider and more experienced workforce as attrition could be expected from big firms as well – some of which could catalyse advancements on the home front in the form of repatriation of skills, and capital.

Featured Image Credits: Skill-Up Technologies

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