Youth unemployment remains a major problem in Tunisia. In the most disadvantaged governorates – and among women and young graduates – the unemployment rate is higher than 30%.
On the one hand, some sectors of the economy do not provide enough jobs. On the other hand, the private sector requires more skilled labour than the national education system can produce. As a result, around 150,000 jobs remain vacant.
Reducing the unemployment rate
Implemented by the Swisscontact Foundation under the aegis of the Tunisian Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment (MFPE), the SDC's vocational training and integration programme comes in addition to Switzerland's initiatives promoting job creation in Tunisia. It has three key objectives:
- to reduce the rate of unemployment by improving the employability of young graduates
- to improve the image of vocational training in Tunisia
- to align training programmes with labour market demand.
Improving teaching and offering specialisations
Young Tunisians are being offered numerous opportunities to upgrade their skills to enter the job market. Some young people are invited to attend practice-based technical courses in existing training centres. In this context, the programme is aimed at improving the quality of teaching, with so far some 90 company trainers having received training in innovative teaching methods.
By 2017, 1,586 Tunisians (of whom 60% women) from disadvantaged regions were able to participate in one-off training sessions to either start or develop high value-added activities. Some of the specialisations taught so far, based on specific requests, include farming quail, pruning vines and agricultural project management. In addition, several technical training courses have been co-certified in partnership with national authorities to ensure that they are embedded in the national vocational training system.
From theory to practice
In 2017, 704 young graduates (62% women) were recruited by one of the five 'practice firms' set up under the programme to date. These organisations are unique in that they function as real companies, although they only market virtual products and services within a global exchange network. The three-month on-the-job training enables young people to gain work experience in a company, strengthen their professional skills and also practise soft skills which are necessary for working life.
The employment rate of former employees of these practice firms – 85% – confirms the added value of these temporary training jobs, which also help to prepare young people mentally for the workplace. "Working in a practice firm has brought back some of the things I had lost, such as my self-confidence and my professional aspirations," says Abir Allouch, who has since been recruited as a graphic designer by a communication company.