Despite numerous reforms and an extensive network of training centres, the Tunisian government is finding it difficult to get a grip on unemployment, particularly in disadvantaged provinces. The system’s lack of efficiency is due primarily to the fact that vocational education courses are not adapted enough to the economy’s needs, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Over the nine years of implementation of the Programme for Vocational Education and Training in Tunisia, which is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the improved employability of young vocational college graduates has been one of its key objectives. The centrepiece of this approach is to create an educational curriculum incorporating hands-on practice, while also imparting soft skills. This should make it easier for graduates to find a job.
The programme has been able to achieve sustainable results: nearly all public sector institutions involved in vocational education and labour market integration, as well as all employer associations and the private sector, have gotten on board. The educational curricula offered through the programme, therefore, enjoy recognition from all our partners. Efforts to expand and institutionalise the curricula, which ensures their sustainability, have already begun.
The availability of specialisation trainings for technical professions has been adapted to the needs of companies. It is now certified and recognised by the various sectoral associations. As an example, in the labour-intensive sectors of automotive mechanics and energy generation, nine specialised pieces of training have been developed, resulting in employment for 75% of their beneficiaries.
The training centres and associated agricultural businesses have been upgraded to meet local needs. The programme has launched three promising pilot teaching models at three agricultural training centres.
The system of internship companies (known in French locally as “entreprises d’entraînement” or “ee”) is inspired by the Swiss model and adapted to the local Tunisian context. It offers certified, practical on-the-job training in various service professions. The programme comprises eight internship companies that have facilitated 85 percent of certified first-time job applicants’ entry into the labour force. The network of Tunisian internship companies (“Réseau des entreprises d’entraînement de Tunisie”, or ReeT) guiding the system works like a Tunisian central service recognised by the global EUROPEN-PEN International network.
In addition to initiatives supporting technical, agricultural, and service jobs, the programme has developed three courses to train company managers and a series of short-term qualification initiatives in the country’s interior regions.
Over the past five years, project activities have created an active network of public institutions, employer associations, and private partners involved in vocational education and employment creation. In addition, three functioning training models have been established. Over 500 private sector companies recruit employees through these platforms. 6,335 people benefited from both long- and short-term vocational training courses. 54 percent of these beneficiaries were women. More than 70 percent have since found jobs.