Since 1998 we have been supporting Tunisia to develop vocational training to boost employability, increase access to opportunity and promote social cohesion. Complementing the work of the EU’s External Action Service, we bring together ministries and social partners to develop scalable projects.
In line with the post-Revolution spirit the need to better align skills to labour market needs country-wide has prompted regionalisation of vocational training in the 24 governorates. This is supported by a wider EU programme, IRADA - Initiative régionale d’appui au développement économique durable co-designed by ETF
To help address high levels of youth unemployment, and equip learners with competences to succeed in business and across multiple career paths in their future professional life, we are promoting entrepreneurial learning as a key competence through vocational training. Examples include supporting the implementation of a national Entrepreneurial Learning Charter, the piloting of a new teacher training methodology and a good practice exchange platform.
Political and economic context and priorities
Since the 2011 revolution, democratisation continues to gather pace. While successive democratically elected governments are yet to achieve the level of stability required to implement much needed and profound reforms, substantial steps have been taken. The first Plan for National Development (2016-2020), for example, prioritises investment in infrastructure, innovation and technology. The plan sets an ambitious growth rate of more than 5% and estimates that 400,000 new high-skilled jobs will be created. This forecast is dependent upon EUR 50 billion of inbound investment. Tunisia has secured around EUR 14 billion so far. The plan also includes a chapter on vocational education and training, calling for a strategic vision to help ensure skills and education is aligned to labour market needs.
Small and medium-size enterprises, particularly in the service sector, are the backbone of the economy, accounting for around 60% of employment in 2011. Unemployment is high, particularly among young educated people and women who represent around a quarter of the labour force. Around half of the 11.3 million population are aged under 30 (UNDP figures, 2015), however, the proportion is decreasing and population growth is slow.
Education and labour policies
Tunisia is a relatively skilled country, with higher education attracting many young people. Nevertheless, results from international skills assessments show a gap in terms of basic skills, such as reading, mathematics and science. Progress is demonstrated by a reduction in the numbers of early school leavers, but in 2015 the rate was still high, at around 50%.
Vocational education and training is not considered an attractive alternative to general education, with around 10% of upper secondary students participating in 2013. Academic education is by far the preferred route, resulting in high unemployment among tertiary graduates.
EU support and the ETF
Tunisia is a high priority country for the EU, receiving EUR 300 million per year, the biggest sum in theEuropean Neighbourhood Instrument south region. Since the 2011 revolution, EU assistance to Tunisia has increased substantially. EU priorities include youth employability, good governance, job creation, managing security and migration, and decreasing social disparities.
As an Agency of the EU, we are providing essential assistance across this agenda:
- Supporting the EU Delegation in the policy dialogue and in the implementation of the IRADA programme;
- Promoting entrepreneurial learning across the vocational education and training system
- Reinforcing the process of regionalisation of some strategic functions of the vocational training system; and
- Enhancing the monitoring of reform implementation.