Benoit Martin, Co-Founder, Talent2Africa

Talent2Africa’s Co-Founder, Benoit Martin spoke to Africa Executive about the company’s key focus areas for the year 2021 and the upcoming trends in the talent industry. Martin feels job recruiters should be strategic and commercial-minded rather than behaving in a transactional way. An advocate for the adoption of The Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme which propagates educational cooperation between countries in Africa, Talent2Africa has since upped their ante in the quests to return talents in the diaspora back to Africa.

Please tell us about your motivation for starting Talent2Africa?
The main goal of Talent2Africa is to contribute to the development of African economies by selecting the best executives in key positions with a direct impact on the success of companies. That means connecting hiring companies in Africa with the best international profiles from around the world but also promote employment and skills development for managers on the continent.

How different is your solution from the traditional recruitment process?
Our web platform allows us to identify more easily the best candidates because we have 150 000 qualified candidates in our own database and, in addition, we have developed an application using a highly effective algorithm in order to do part of the preselection online.

What problems are you looking to solve in the HR space?
African Managers and executives have 3 problems in recruiting talents: too expansive, process too long, not enough qualified and talented candidates. We provide a global solution on these 3 key points.

Given the war for talent, what are the challenges for companies?
The toughest challenge facing most companies these days is in hiring the best, most skilled employees. Heavyweights in the IT sectors such as Google and Facebook can lure top talent with six-figure salaries, lucrative stock packages, and lavish perks, including sushi buffets and free laundry service. And that’s because they constantly have requirements for web and mobile developers, CTOs, data scientists, cybersecurity experts, technical consultants, etc.

Whilst these categories of talents are increasingly difficult to find in Africa, recruiters like us are still able to manage to find the talented African professionals in the diaspora who are willing to work in Africa. Talents within this category are mostly found in the infrastructure, energy and environmental sectors. One sector where there is a huge talent shortage is the engineering and that’s the skils requirements of that sector which is sometimes hard to find.

In general, Africa has a lot of potentially skilled candidates but recruiters have difficulties identifying and selecting the ones with specific skills set. Remuneration is also an important factor for finding the best of talents. The newer, smaller companies, have to work harder to attract high-quality people using a range of creative hiring strategies. That’s why despite the fact companies receive many CVs (proactive applications or through job offers), they still need to source and find competent HR partners

How does HR and marketing work together?
HR and marketing are two clear-cut areas within any organization, but progressively, there is a need for them to collaborate and work together. The driver is the increasing pace of technology. Technology and especially social media have drastically changed the world for both functions. It has altered how both customers and employees engage and interact with companies.

As the internal and external collide HR and marketing need to work closer together than ever because while the marketing department directs and communicates the brand of the company to consumers, the collaboration of HR and marketing communicates the brand of the company to employees. By way of this synergy, HR finds the best people to promote and build the brand, while marketing creates and delivers the brand message to employees.

What are the hiring trends that you see in Africa?
A recent report by Deloitte’s Spotlight on Africa: HR and Global Mobility Trends and Approaches shows that 56 percent of companies reported an increase in hiring African nationals who are returning to Africa after working or studying overseas. This is encouraging! After all, returning Africans come back with new skills, experiences, networks, ideas, and perspectives that can be beneficial to employers and the continent as a whole over time. However, that same report found that only 18 percent of companies are actually doing something to encourage their return.

In addition, 82 percent of companies do not have a separate policy for facilitating moves into Africa. Africa’s young demographics are much more likely to have passed through the continent’s formal education systems and with that comes a challenge for leaders of business and government to provide them with the opportunities to apply their skills. More importantly, to ensure their skills can help them thrive in the changing world of work.

At current rates, 15 to 20 million increasingly well-educated young people are expected to join the continent’s workforce every year until 2030. This poses a challenge to governments and businesses. In this regard, the challenge for recruiters is to fill middle management positions, much more than entry-level positions or C-level positions (rarer)

Recruitment is becoming increasingly difficult because of technology to source talent. How have you dealt with this?
Since its inception, Talent2Africa is both a Human Resources consulting firm (headhunting, Payroll, organizational audit, training) and a Pan-African recruitment platform. In 2016, we created the first Pan-African talent pool for managers and executives (150,000 members today). Our algorithm powered by our own team do the matching between the need of recruiters and the profiles of candidates in our database.
Our platform also allows us to obtain the maximum level of information on a candidate. We are convinced that digital tools are essential to make the sourcing process faster and more qualitative. For example, people in Europe and the US are aware of how best to make a career within a company; while in Asia, the sentiment is that, if it is getting tough here let’s move to another employer.

How did the different markets perform last year and what’s the future outlook?
Construction, Energy, Banking, and Telco performed great in 2019 and there is no reason that these sectors will not continue in this growth pattern in 2020 and 2021, even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a staffing company can you foresee the future a little bit for 2021? Which companies do you think are going to see a maximum number of job creation?
Considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the companies that continue to provide jobs are the Telcos, IT, Construction, Banking and insurance and Energy.

What are the latest trends in hiring talent?
Personality and assessment tests are more used because recruiters know that soft skills are as important as technical skills.

There is a lot of discussion happening around the diversity of the workforce in Africa, what’s your take?

I’m of the opinion that there’s strength in diversity, and that represents a great opportunity for Africa’s development. I think that both public and private African institutions should tap into opportunities residing in the diversity of all forms for the development of the continent using the grounded theory approach. African countries are often confronted by challenging socio-economic and demographic situations and set apart by the diversity of their social mechanisms.

My argument is that, for Africa’s development, there is little doubt that diversity management is indispensable in presenting a positive scope for innovative “made in Africa” policies. Human diversity particularly ethnic and cultural has not been easy to tolerate in all facets of life affecting livelihoods and in the worst scenario degenerating into xenophobic attacks. HR managers also have to role to play in making the cultural differences are well harnessed to ensure productivity.

What are the three key focus areas for Talent2africa?

1 West and Central Africa
2 East Africa
3 Maghreb
4 Indian ocean area


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