As a consequence of the rapid shift toward more technologically-inclined financial services delivery, as well as a similar move in consumer behaviour, digital and soft skills have emerged as the most in-demand areas of competence banks are seeking.
“We have seen an uptick in demand for programmes focusing on digitalisation, technology as well as soft skills,” underscored Principal of the National Banking College (NBC) Gloria Darline Quartey in an interview with the B&FT on the sidelines of the training institution’s maiden Annual General Meeting (AGM).
She explained that while digitalisation has reduced the necessity of human interactions, it has not altogether eliminated such exchanges. A consequence, however, has been increased democratisation of the ecosystem, allowing consumers to switch service providers with minimum fuss.
These developments have heightened the need for sharpened soft skills on the part of bankers – particularly when interacting with customers, but also among staff.
“At the onset of the pandemic, consumer needs were evolving rapidly as people came to expect more and more from their online banking services,” she added.
Ms. Quartey’s assertions are consistent with the conclusion of a number of studies – including one by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) just prior to the advent of COVID-19 – which suggest that sub-Saharan Africa has a US$130billion investment opportunity in digital upskilling by 2030.
According to the study, more than 9 million jobs in Ghana are expected to require such skills by end of the decade, with financial services delivery, especially banking, poised to be a key taker. The number is expected to be higher following the pandemic’s impact.
Year under review
The NBC, which was established in 1994, as the first specialist training institution for bankers and financial services professionals, has two primary sources of income – annual subscription by member-banks as well as internally-generated funds, primarily from programmes offered.
In 2021, the college recorded an 82.7 percent rise in the number of participants from 2,995 in the previous year to 5,471. During that period, the college modified its delivery with 86 percent of programmes being delivered virtually. In-person and hybrid formats accounted for 12 and 2 percent respectively.
NBC saw its total revenue grow by five percentage points to hit GH¢14million at end of the year.
Subscriptions continued to constitute the major source of revenue, contributing 69 percent of total revenue.
“Other sources included commercial fees, investment yield and rental services fees,” the college revealed, with expenditure rising by 13 percent to GH¢11.1million and total assets climbing in value to GH¢25.6million.
Echoing sentiments earlier expressed by Chairman of the Governing Council Dr. Ernest Addison, through his first Deputy Dr. Maxwell Opoku Afari, the Principal said the college will continue to pursue its recently-approved five-year growth strategy.
A key feature, she said, will be increased efforts to rope-in participants from the non-bank financial institutions, citing the important position they occupy in the domestic financial landscape.
“The non-bank financial institutions are not obliged to participate in NBC programmes, unlike universal banks. Even though activities of the Saving and Loans companies, rural banks, finance houses and microcredit firms affect the majority of players in the industry, there are no official directives regarding their participation in training programmes at the college,” she emphasised.
“Management will liaise with the BoG on the need to encourage these firms participation in NBC programmes,” the principal affirmed.