Jenny Ugonna, a customer service agent at a company that provides tech support services to companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Google etc., decided her time was up at the firm. She had been there for about two years without any considerable boost to her salary, neither did her monthly pay justify the mental stress of working odd shifts and odd hours. Additionally, the frequent depreciation of her Naira salary meant it was just tough making ends meet.

Unsure about her next actions, she turned to a friend who had just applied successfully for a job at an Eastern European firm, to teach her the ropes. She subsequently applies for a role as a Project Analyst for a global firm in the US and gets the job at $7 per hour. At 40 hours a week, she could be making $1,120 or N638,400 (assuming black market exchange rate). In other words more than 2x her current salary.

These days it has become relatively easier to apply for remote working jobs abroad. All you need to do is register on websites such as Upwork and Fiverr, and you are open to a range of opportunities to work remotely.

Millennials and Gen Zs are taking advantage of the post-covid-19 technological advances in remote working to source for jobs from any part of the world while living in Nigeria. Apart from having a flexible work schedule, they also get to earn in foreign currency and can even run two or more jobs at the same time.

“No more having to wake up very early to jump buses, suffer in Lagos traffic only to get to work to a boss ready to pour their frustration on you,” one remote worker explains to Nairametrics.

The remuneration for remote working also varies. According to our findings, some of the jobs can range from $2 per hour to as high as $40 per hour depending on the skill you have, role accountability and the demand for the role.

Jobs such as digital media specialist, software engineer, cyber security expert etc., attract the highest wages per hour. On the flip side, jobs with high supply and less skill requirement such as customer service and data entry roles attract the lowest rates per hour, sometimes as low as $2 per hour.

Local firms under pressure

While the gig economy has caught on positively for young Nigerians it has been a challenge for local firms. Most of the Startups surveyed by Nairametrics all complained of high attrition rates across all levels. Some of their staff do not even bother to send in resignation letters, choosing instead to notify their line managers by WhatsApp messages. Those who bother to resign properly, do it with pride and a sense of fulfilment.

A Human Resource Manager in one of the leading utility companies in Nigeria also complained of higher attrition rates amongst the younger workers.

“Before, they were leaving their jobs to Canada and the United States. However, we are now seeing ourselves competing with European companies offering them jobs in dollars without the need to apply for visas. They just work from the comfort of their homes. How do you compete with that, without blowing up your personnel budget?” he quipped.

Wole, the CEO of a young FinTech complained more about the seeming waste of investment in resources and human capital development.

“After spending time and money training some of these employees, they use those same skills you impart on them to apply for higher-paying jobs abroad, and there is really nothing you can do to stop them,” he lamented. However, what he has resorted to doing is offering incentives that keep them loyal.

“For example, I offer them cars, which they can end up owning, provided they remain with us for 4 years. We also give our bonuses every quarter just to whet their appetite,” he disclosed.

Whilst these incentives reduce the attrition rate, it doesn’t stop it completely. Millennials and Gen Zs have so much power it takes more than money to keep them loyal to an organisation. They all want better control of their time and their mental health. Some do not believe in sticking with the conventional 9 to 5 work hours. Why can’t it be 12 – 8 pm or 2 pm to 10 pm?

The economy and jobs

The Nigerian economy is mostly to blame for the high attrition rates faced by local Nigerian companies. Faced with high inflation, multiple exchange rates and job insecurity among others, young Nigerians have no choice but to seek better opportunities elsewhere even if it is to the detriment of the economy.

The country also has one of the largest youth populations in the world with an unemployment rate of over 30%. About 13.9 million or 64.3% of the unemployed population are under 35 years. This army of unemployed youth will continue to be a major source for the global jobs market.

However, some analysts believe it is a net positive for Nigeria. In a recent Webinar hosted by The Alvin Report, Akintoye Akindele, a serial investor in Nigeria, opined that knowledge export was perhaps the best form of export Nigeria currently has.

“I actually think it is a great development. By getting jobs abroad, our youth can acquire more skills and equip themselves for the jobs of the future. They also get to earn forex which we need in this economy,” he said.

By working locally and earning in foreign currency, these employees also function like diaspora Nigerians. This tees up well with a recent world bank report that suggests countries with more diaspora workforce can be a huge agent for change.

“The diaspora of developing countries can be a potent force for development for their countries of origin, through remittances, but also, importantly, through the promotion of trade, investments, research, innovation, and knowledge and technology transfers.” – World Bank.

It is not all roses

Despite the advantages provided by flexible remote working and applying for jobs abroad, it is not all dandies. For example, you are charged a 20% fee for every dollar you earn per hour by the Platform used to apply for the job.

Some of the jobs also have limited working hours and can be at odd times. For example, you can get a nice paying hourly job that is just for 10 hours a week.
40 hours a week jobs are fewer and far between. Even when you get these jobs, the contracts can be terminated quickly without recourse or terminal benefits.
There are also no pensions or other forms of compensations often associated with fully paid local employment.
Communication can also be a challenge when you are a member of a team with members from diverse countries with different language barriers.
Career development can also be a major challenge. Promotions, new job grade levels synonymous with traditional jobs are rare in gig jobs.

Some of these challenges still exist in local jobs, thus, they are not enough to deter young Nigerians. For Jenny, her new job promised just 5 hours a week, but she has found peace of mind and satisfaction. She now has more time to read and conduct research and work on projects she never could find time to do.

She is also looking for another job in the portal to complement what she currently does. “I feel like I am supergirl now that I have the power to decide my future,” she says.