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Southern and Eastern Mediterranean


The political and economic context in the countries of the region (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia) is marked by profound socio-economic challenges, high volatility and instability.

Economic growth was heavily affected by the uprisings in the region and the crisis in Europe with a decrease in tourism revenues, a slow-down of foreign investment and exports, and a decrease in remittances. With an average regional growth of 3% in 2013-14, the trend towards moderate growth is very recent and the foundations are still shaky given the persistent instability in the region.

In the above context and against a historic trend of jobless growth, employment remains the highest priority. The region’s very low activity rates are persistent: on average less than half the working age population is economically active in the region. This is mainly due to the low participation of women in the labour market (one woman in five is economically active and only one in six is employed), the world’s lowest rate. Youth unemployment is of great concern, with peaks above 25% in a demographic situation where 60% of population is under 30 years of age. While the region has made very good progress in attaining universal enrolment in education (with few exceptions), the existence of dropouts, in particular after lower secondary education is of high concern. Not in education, employment, or training (NEETs) are estimated at 32% of the population aged 15-29.

In response to the higher demand for employment, VET and employability have been rising on the political agenda in recent years. Some countries have worked on comprehensive VET strategies, but these are not yet integrated into a broader economic and social vision. Progress can be observed in some countries in terms of enhanced participation in the design of a shared vision. The main challenge is to keep high levels of participation while moving from vision to implementation. Areas for further improvement include monitoring and evaluation of policies and strategies and measuring VET system performance.

Against this background, ENI single support frameworks for 2014-20 for all countries in the region include skills development as one of the three priorities for the next programming framework, in the context of broader inclusive growth and competitiveness packages, labour market reform, or employment and/or private sector development.,

In the context of the above mentioned challenge and of the EU external relations instrument priorities, the findings of the Torino Process, the 2015 Torino Process Declaration and the EU-funded Governance for Employability in the Mediterranean (GEMM) project, the key priorities for the modernisation of VETin the regionare:

  • More participatory governance: Countries are aware that shifting from supply driven to demand driven VET systems implies a participatory approach to skills development. This requires support both in terms of greater coordination among key partners as well as in the devolution of responsibilities to the regional level.
  • Modernise qualifications: NQFs are on the agenda of most countries in the region, but progress is generally slow. Legal adoption and the required institutional structures and associated quality assurance systems are either lacking or partial. In most cases, qualifications have not yet been placed in the frameworks even if the countries plan to use NQFs as reform instruments as part of wider VET system reform. The ETF supports them by providing technical and policy advice on how to develop their NQFs, assisting in capacity building of national institutions and facilitating peer-learning.
  • Promote entrepreneurial learning and skills for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises): Job creation in the private sector has become a high priority in all countries. Against this background, countries have introduced a wide array of schemes to support financing, training or support to SMEs. More attention to specific groups, such as youth, women, and the need for an integrated support to SMEs are high on the agenda.
  • Policy analysis and monitoring of progress: In recent years most countries have started ambitious reform initiatives (often with donor support). Following the unrest, countries have also started to provide a wide array or short or medium term measures to support employment. Against this background, the need to develop robust analytical and monitoring tools to assess and measure progress is gaining importance.  

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