Africa’s Retail Skills Shortage

In Sub-Saharan Africa’s fast moving and highly competitive consumer market, the importance of hiring the right talent remains critical to the success of retailers.

This was among the key insights and trends garnered from the recently held GIBS Retail and Consumer Insights Conference 2019.

One of the major themes which emerged from the event was the significant skills shortage in several pockets of the industry.

David Smith, Equity Research Analyst at Investec, highlighted the critical skills shortage of data scientists and analysts in the retail sector.

While David Smollan, CEO of Smollan Group, stressed the importance of globally experienced talent, and how encouraging skilled retail professionals to return home will help boost local best practices.

He also spoke about the gender imbalance in the industry, underscoring the need for talented female retailers from the diaspora.

Sabine Witasek, Acting Supply Chain Executive at Masscash, said there is lack of experienced supply chain executives as well as buyers and planners with a solid understanding of industry-specific software platforms.

While Dagmar Artz, Head of People and Performance Africa at Cotton On Group, spoke about the importance of homegrown talent, specifically when hiring C-suite candidates.

She also stressed the importance of hiring based on an individual’s values and personality, and not just making the decision based on skillset.

“The continent’s rapidly evolving consumer market presents a highly lucrative opportunity to retailers with one in five of the world’s consumers projected to live in Africa by the end of the next decade. However, it is crucial that employers hire the right talent to help them innovate, differentiate and remain relevant in an incredibly competitive industry,” comments Angel Jones CEO at Homecoming Revolution on the insights.

Angel says globally experienced diaspora talent offer a competitive edge due to their resilience, agility, adaptability and willingness to take risks.

Another critical theme explored at the conference was the importance of utilizing data and analytics to take the understanding of the customer to a new level.

However, a shortage of skilled data scientists remains a major roadblock to unlocking this information both across the continent and abroad.

Recently released research by the Brookings Institution confirms these views saying information gaps remain a major impediment for businesses trying to appeal directly to African consumers.

“This is a two-pronged approach. Employers across Sub-Saharan Africa need to look beyond their borders and hire diaspora talent with experience in data analysis, bring these skills home and start training local employees in global best practice,” comments Angel.

Homecoming Revolution is the brain gain global headhunting firm for Africa. Find out more about our bespoke headhunting services by contacting info@homecomingrevolution.com.

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