Rise Of Digital Economy Raising Demand For Tech Skills

By Brenda Too The digital ecosystem in Africa’s Silicon Savannah has very high prospects. As it stands, there are close…

 Rise Of Digital Economy Raising Demand For Tech Skills

By Brenda Too

The digital ecosystem in Africa’s Silicon Savannah has very high prospects. As it stands, there are close to 400 fintech startups in the country. In 2020, for instance, Kenya was second to Nigeria in the concentration of startup activity in Africa, with an investment of KES 35.7 billion, according to research by database company Statista.

Beyond the fintech space, major tech companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, and Visa have chosen Kenya as their base for new operations. During the recent launch of Microsoft’s KES 3 billion office and labs, President Uhuru Kenyatta touched on the need to “build a local world-class talent and create innovative technological solutions that will yield global positive impacts’’.

The rising digital economy in the country has sparked an increased demand for skills in digital technology, artificial intelligence, and automation alongside less tangible abilities such as problem-solving, emotional intelligence, resilience, and adaptability.

These developments in the tech space have opened up a battlefront for tech talent and fintechs are caught up in the middle of it.

The war for talent as a strategic business challenge across the board

Covid 19 accelerated the adoption of digital-centric and cybersecurity strategies by various organizations. Tech talent such as industry innovators, engineers, interface designers, business, marketing, and product managers who can contribute to digital transformations across different sectors are now highly sought after.

Fintechs have an upper hand as they are chipping away or complementing functions of traditional businesses. A good example is how fintechs are reshaping the payments, insurance, or lending sectors, providing a more customer-oriented and digital experience, dicing away a major source of revenue for institutions such as banks.

Why fintechs are a good fit for tech talent

Organizations today are now redesigning to be more collaborative and agile. Fintechs present an attractive option for tech talent who shun traditional roles and redundant management hierarchies.

Pursuing a formal occupation after schooling is no longer of interest among young professionals today, given the erosion of perceived advantages of a traditional career, relative to undefined yet exciting pathways and experiences that industries such as fintechs offer.

Strategies to attract and retain talent

A competitive tech sector is the best guarantee for the healthy development of Kenya’s tech industry. However, fintechs must stand in order to tap the best resources in the job market.

A first step in attracting top talent could be building a robust digital recruiting strategy inclusive of social media recruiting via LinkedIn and utilization of job boards such as Glassdoor, among others, to tap source candidates.

With so many roles available and so few highly-skilled candidates, it’s often necessary to supplement your internal recruiting strategies, from time to time, with outsourced expertise to help with hard-to-fill skill sets.

Offering employees incentives such as remote work flexibility, referral programs, benefits, diversity, and inclusion initiatives incentivizes candidates to join a team or stick around. Most fintech roles are remote-capable, and attracting talents means giving them a say on different work modes such as in-office, fully remote, or a hybrid environment.

Growing and deploying talent starts with identifying what drives peak performance. This includes collecting data to create a 360-degree view of your employees – what they do, whom they interact with, and their deployment areas — and then using this information to invest in optimization strategies that build world-class talent.

Finally, beyond using tried and tested tactics such as competitive salaries and the best benefits, putting serious thought into your company culture can help set your company apart from the competition.

The writer is the People Operations Manager, Chipper Cash Africa

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