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TUNISIA – Training a Skilled 21st Workforce


Youssef Chahed,  Head of Government, Tunisia



The Government of Tunisia

In June 2016, the IMF  approved a four-year, $2.9 billion loan for Tunisia to support the government’s economic agenda aimed at promoting more inclusive growth and job creation, while protecting the most vulnerable households.

The cohesiveness of communities depends on social and economic development, education and job opportunities, especially for the youth. In this era of globalisation and the information age, where capital and labour are so mobile, no country can afford to undervalue or ignore its human capital.

With a relatively high level of unemployment around 15%, especially among higher education graduates, Tunisia must ensure that early intervention and prevention mechanisms as well as active labour market policies are strengthened to boost investment, competitiveness and social stability to combat uncertainty and instability.

The transition from education to employment is a key phase in a young person’s life. We are actively working to ensure that proper systems are in place to assist our youth during the challenging journey to secure employment.

Giving our young people the opportunity to direct their talent, enthusiasm and energy into sustainable and rewarding employment is critical to our country’s future. We want to ensure that our young people, irrespective of their background, gender or education, have equal choices, and chances to enable them to reach their full potential.

We are aware of the asymmetry between abundant labour supply and the expectations of the job market. We are actively working on adapting the supply to the demand as well as getting the academic and professional training sectors to work closer with the business world. This is a team-based process, involving various ministries such as those of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Employment and Vocational Training, and Industry and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises).

We are witnessing the growing impact of innovation, technology and digitalisation on the whole world.  Our education system must keep pace with the changing needs and impacts of these new phenomena. To make sure Tunisia stays on track, it’s necessary to determine the “contents” of each training, based on a functional approach that addresses the specific needs created by rapid technological changes.

In order to meet these requirements, it is necessary to work simultaneously on all the components of the human resources development system. Hence, we have started the reforms process for our primary and secondary education, higher education and vocational training. We have also implemented several incentives and programmes across various ministries in order to foster entrepreneurship.  We expect our parliament to approve a Start-Up Act soon.

Our country is embracing a rapid transformation of its economy and society, with a significant focus on digitalisation. We have what it takes to support and stimulate this transformation. It is a nationwide and collective effort. Improving employment opportunities for young people requires a broad and concerted effort from all stakeholders. While the Government and public sector are primarily responsible for creating an enabling environment for youth employment, employers play a crucial role in the process. Entrepreneurship will be crucial to the future of our youth and our country.


Developing the Skills of a  21st Century Workforce


Dr. Slim FERIANI,  Minister of Industry and SMEs, Tunisia

Our country, Tunisia, has 3.000 years of cultural heritage, 1.200 kilometres of Mediterranean coasts, spacious fertile lands (making it the breadbasket of the Roman Empire), considerable natural resources etc. However, our people are our greatest asset and they must be nurtured and looked after carefully. A special focus has always been given to our youth, but never more so than in the past seven years since we embarkedon a path to democracy – a path initiated and led by our youth.

Over the past decade, various nations across the world have experienced financial turmoil and unrest, youth alienation, brain drain, illegal immigration etc. Hence, every nation owes it to its youth to offer a social fabric, which is endowed with the necessary tools that ensure protection, trust, opportunities and happiness.

As Minister of Industry and SMEs, I am faced on a regular basis with the need from industrial companies for skilled work force, ideally based near their plants. This demand is estimated at tens of thousands of jobs per year in traditional sectors such as textiles as well as in new and promising sectors such as aeronautics and autos. However, there is a gap between the skills of our abundant labour supply and the requirements of industrial firms. Hence, we are pro-actively working to close the supply-demand skills gap in collaboration with various leading local firms and industry clusters, along with our colleagues in the Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Employment and Professional Training as well as. It is a perfect example of Public-Private Partnership.

We are living through the fourth industrial revolution, which relies on innovation, technology, automation and artificial intelligence. It challenges the old economic and social models. Indeed, over the past few years, the industrial sector has been going through deep changes, in which information and communication technologies (ICT) have taken the driving seat. This new industrial revolution is giving birth to a new generation of industry: Industry 4.0, or Smart Industry, represents a major technological breakthrough and game-changer for the industrial sector globally. This will have decisive consequences on future jobs.

The implementation of Industry 4.0 requires a new generation of employees. They need to be multi-talented knowledge workers who not only have technical skills but, additionally, non-technical skills, like communication, problem-solving, decision-making and multidisciplinary work and life skills.

In order to remain an African leader in the industrial world and to maintain a globally competitive advantage, we are in the process of implementing a national strategy to help our industrial firms embrace Industry 4.0. We believe that this is the best way to ensure that global champions such as Airbus, Leoni, Yazaki, Henkel etc., and home-grown international champions Coficab and One Tech groups, continue to rely on Tunisia to serve as one of their main and most competitive industrial hubs.

According to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Index 2018, Tunisia is ranked first in Africa in terms of quality of the entrepreneurial environment. We are determined to maintain that leadership position and further encourage the entrepreneurship which, ultimately, could be the best way to employ our youth and help them thrive. It will also keep our country firmly on the path of fair, inclusive and sustainable social and economic development. The upcoming approval by parliament of our Start-up Act will mark a historic step in that direction. In addition, we are enthusiastically encouraging various initiatives such as:  1) innovative and alternative ways to access finance to help start-ups and small businesses, eg. Crowdfunding;  2) nationwide teaching and promotion of ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) issues for our youth, which ultimately will make them better citizens.

Last but not least, and in order to promote entrepreneurship as the major driver for youth employment, we are keen on further valuing and encouraging national champions and success stories such as Wallyscar. This is the first Tunisian car manufacturer set-up barely a dozen years ago in 2006 by two ambitious young Tunisians in their twenties.  It was recently voted one of the winners of the Arab Youth Campaign on Innovation Contestorganized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Success breeds confidence!  Confidence breeds success and hard work pays off.


A  Tribute to  Innovative   Tunisian Youth   Entrepreneurs


Hon. Olfa Soukri Cherif, MP Tunisia,  Vice Chair,  Parliamentary Network on the World Bank & IMF

In the battle of the ideas, Tunisia is climbing up the top-50 of the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which scores the economies and measures the impact of innovation by multiple factors such as research and development spending and the concentration of high-tech public companies.

Innovation is a multi-dimensional phenomenon that constitutes a creative synthesis between the world of knowledge and technology and the vast expectations of society. The design phase is a magical moment where the vision of the project materializes into a concrete proposal – the fruit of the entrepreneur’s sensitivity, imagination, and inspiration. An excellent example of this is Wallyscar, created in 2016 by two brothersOmar and Zied Guiga.It is the first car manufactured in Africa, and the first in the Arab world to be exported around the world. They draw on a regional ecosystem of automotive suppliers, and are now developing new models including an electric vehicle which will be launched at the end of 2018.

Wallyscar and its inventors – Zied and Omar Guiga

I would like to offer a tribute to three other young Tunisian entrepreneurs in the following areas: the internet of things, agriculture and energy.

In 2017, Emna Ben Ali, 25 years, became the youngest winner of the Women Entrepreneurs Trophy of Tunisia for a project related to the internet of things. It involves industrial automation, the production of electronic cards and the centralization of public lighting via the internet. Her idea to apply the internet of things to public lighting is an innovation that reduces energy consumption, lowers the public lighting budget, and makes the task of maintenance workers considerably easier.

Mohamed Nejib Gaddes has registered two patents for recovery of olive oil waste. The first patent relates to depollution and transformation of the “marjine”(olive waste) in a way that does not affect the water table. The second one focuses on recycling olive oil waste into biomass and biodiesel – clean energy products with high added value which are then exported to the European market. This patented and globally recognized know-how is an opportunity for Tunisia to position itself as a global leader in clean, green, environmentally-responsible agriculture. In 2016, Tunisia won the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Award for its organic oil.

Maher Damak, a 28-year-old Tunisian doctoral candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), won first prize in both the United States Department of Energy’s national competition and the annual MIT competition. He has been ranked among the top 30 innovators under 30 in the world by Forbes. He invented a system for recovering water from steam emissions from power stations: the technology recovers 80% of the water from a 250 megawatt plant (the equivalent of about 1000 to 2000 liters per minute). In addition to this technology, Damak has developed and patented the system to reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture from 100 liters per hectare to 10 liters per hectare.


The Moubadiroun Project


 Faouzi Abderrahman,  Minister of Vocational Training and Employment

In Tunisia, the National Employment Agencylaunched the employment fundto support  the salaries of newly-hired employees by giving direct subsidies for, mainly, higher education diplomas and also offering the tools of entrepreneurship to youth by training coaching and accompanying until the launching and entering the market.

The “Moubadiroun” Projectis an initiative designed by the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment to highlight the importance of national strategy for  integrated and multi-sectoral employment.

  • Integrated: it responds to the constraints related to job demand (supporting and improving the employability of job seekers) on the one hand and stimulates job creation in value chains and provides support for the creation micro-enterprises on the other hand
  • Multi-sectoral: Seven Ministries are partners in the design and implementation of the project, under the leadership of the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment.

The project aims to improve economic opportunities for disadvantaged youth in 7 regions: Manouba, Jendouba, Séliana, Kasserine, Kairouan, Sfax and Kebili and aims to reduce the gap between women and men for access to job opportunities.  It’s targets:

  • 10,000 young people aged between 18 and 35, living in one of the selected gubernatorial districts, with a scoring mechanism to give priority to young people in vulnerable situations
  • 250 micro, small & medium enterprises in the development of 4 value chains

The project will last for 6 years and its implementation will allow us to:

  • Create 9,700 direct/indirect jobs through the development of 4 value chains
  • Improve the employability of 10,000  young people, and enhance their connection to the job market whether in salaried jobs or independent self-employment, through the creation of 2,200 micro-enterprises.

Strengthen the capacities of the public and associated actors involved in the implementation of the project.

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