Access Bank’s ‘W Initiative’, in collaboration with Lafarge Africa Plc, during the week organised a workshop with some of Nigeria’s leading women professionals in manufacturing to discuss gender disparity in the manufacturing sector.
Among others, the workshop examined the reasons for the unattractiveness of the sector to women, creating innovative solutions specifically targeted at professional women in manufacturing, and increasing the number of women who work in the manufacturing industry.
Setting the tone for discussions, Access Bank’s Executive Director Elias Igbin-Akenzua said “approximately 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled because companies can’t find qualified workers to fill them.
In her address to the gathering, Managing Director, Geocycle, Lafarge Africa Plc, Mrs. Adepeju Adebajo, remarked that women represent manufacturing’s largest pool of untapped talent and the dearth of women in manufacturing has been made more prominent recently, due to the potential skills shortage facing the industry.
Mrs. Adebajo identified Nigeria’s formal education system as the most powerful agency of change from which several intelligent and confident women who now challenge many aspects of patriarchy in all leading occupations have emerged.
While urging for support, coaching and encouragement for more women to be successfully recruited and retained in manufacturing, she stated that “women have become leading industry players in different sectors, which were for long the preserve of men – including manufacturing.
“The industry needs to send out the right message that women can, and do succeed in manufacturing careers,” Adebajo said.
Victoria Ibhawa of Deloitte provided valuable research and data, while other notable speakers at the workshop touched on the existing dearth of women professionals in the sector, the challenges they face and propositions on the way forward.
This workshop is expected to culminate in the launching of a ‘think tank’ group providing advice and ideas on attracting, retaining and advancing women in the manufacturing workforce.