FG should develop data governance for workers –Aguele

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The Chief Operations Officer, VerifyMe Nigeria, Mr. Esigie Aguele, speaks to OZIOMA UBABUKOH on the need for domestic employers and companies to verify the identities of prospective workers before recruiting them, among other issues

In verifying the identities of prospective employees, do emerging recruiting firms like yours look at their behavioural disposition?

We don’t provide analysis on that; we just provide the data points. Let us look at a scenario where an employer wants to employ a worker who has not stayed in any job for more than four months and nothing negative was reported about the person, but it was noticed that within two years the prospective employee had worked in six places. At that point, you can determine the behavioural disposition that the prospective employee would probably not stay on the job for a long period. But we do not tell the employers that, we just give them the information. It is up to the employers to make deductions based on the data we provide.

On the contrary, millennials at work places don’t stay long on a job, yet studies have shown that they are good at what they do. How will you reconcile this with your initial comment?

I hire people and I was a manager for a long time in the United States. My take is that there is a fine line between moving around and moving around a lot. At the end of the day, an employer wants to know that you are at least going to give him or her some of the value that they are hiring you for and they are always not going to get that immediately. On most jobs, it takes about three months for you to key in on the learning curve and start doing your job properly. So, if they feel that you’re going to be there for three months before you become a quality member of the team, and then leave, some people may judge that differently.

As I said, we actually don’t give them a disposition. I like the millennials, people who move around and want their quality out of life. I could be someone who would see the work history of someone moving around and don’t have a problem with it, but another employer could see that, depending on the job, differently. It also depends on the job type. It is not necessarily a problem if it is an Information Technology job. But if someone is a blue-collar worker, who has been a driver and has driven for eight people in two years that can potentially be seen as somebody who is not going to stay and not necessarily that he or she has done anything wrong. So, it’s just about providing data points for people to make decisions.

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So what factors determine the primary targets in recruitment and employee verification?

Our primary targets, in terms of workers right now, are the blue-collar workers, because there is a massive capability to scale there. Most of the people registering on our site are the nannies, the drivers and domestic workers in Nigeria, because there is a huge security issue. Indeed, our primary targets are the blue-collar to middle level workers and up to the teller level for corporations. For corporations, mostly, we are targeting many large companies because we are trying to scale and they are the ones that have the highest risks in terms of human capital.

So, we target large companies with high number of employees; and then for registration, we target the blue-collar workers to register on our system and it’s free. It’s about explaining to them that it is also in their benefit to register to make them more credible.

Using VerifyMe Nigeria as a case study, how exactly does it leverage Information and Communications Technology in its recruitment exercise?

For one, we are cloud hosted and we communicate over virtual private networks for cyber security. Our platforms are custom. We actually have a team, our engineering team, that develops all our solutions in-house. Therefore, we are not actually using third party platforms. What we use is proprietary technology that we are building. My background is in engineering and I am an enterprise architect. I have spent over 20 years in the United States building systems for the United State Government, so we have great experience in that area. In terms of leveraging tools, there are custom tools leveraging available technology that is not necessarily used here, but is available. We go to government agencies and tell them that we can help them leverage the technology and help report on their data points and make them more valuable.

To what extent will the proposed minimum wage review affect job verification/recruitment seeing that the current minimum wage can no longer take the worker home?

I completely agree. And you know what, it will impact our business. First, if the Federal Government increases the minimum wage, it will enable more people to register because it will take away the challenges of financial limitations. For instance, it will economically empower more workers to buy smartphones, they will be able to go to business centres to register, and they can use any additional funds they get from their wages to continue to upgrade and empower themselves. With regard to how it will impact us, we think it will make things better for us in terms of scaling our system. Anything that puts more funds in the hands of the worker is going to be good for VerifyMe.

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Don’t you see the planned minimum wage increment for government employees affecting the private sector, which may lead to some workers having negative ideas like going into robbery, among others?

Well, no. On the contrary, I feel it will create competition. What is going to happen is if government workers or workers in one part of Nigeria are getting wage increase, the workers in the private sector will now start looking for those jobs. The private sector normally has higher wages than what government offers so that they can attract the best people. But with the turn of events now, sooner or later, the private sector is going to have to compete with the government to be able to retain the good workers that it has. For instance, if I worked in the private sector and I know that government has increased the minimum wage for my skill set, I am going to leave. What I see is that it is going to push the private sector to bring up its standards as well so that it can compete and not lose its workers.

What will be your advice to the Federal Government on what it is not doing rightly as it concerns workers’ welfare, recruitment and productivity?

I won’t look at it in terms of what it is not doing well because the problem with Nigeria started about 50 years ago. It’s not really about blaming one administration. What they need to do is to realise that data governance is key to being able to implement any kind of social programme in Nigeria. You cannot give social benefits to people who actually don’t know themselves. Therefore, the advice I will give to the government is to continue to have very strong appetite to grow data governance, grow the National Identity Management Commission and grow the national repository of Nigerians to know who they are, to interact with them through social programmes and through social benefits that will enable the Nigerian people to plan their lives.

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