Efforts to align technical education with market needs

Unemployment remains one of the most important challenges facing the government. Despite steady economic growth, bureaucracy and tight regulations for private sector operators have sometimes prevented the economy from creating enough jobs at a fast enough rate. Addressing the parliament in mid-2014, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that the country had been able to reduce unemployment from 29.5% in 2000 to 9.8% in 2013. However, the IMF recently warned that general unemployment could reach 10.8% by the end of 2014. The problem is particularly prevalent among young people between 15 and 24 years of age, 24.8% of whom are unemployed. To address this, authorities are working to improve vocational and technical education by aligning it with market demands.

Vocational Training

The Ministry of Training and Professional Education (Ministère de la Formation et de l’Enseignement Professionnels, MFEP) oversees Algeria’s training institutes, vocational schools and support centres. Over the past decade government investment has focused on expanding infrastructure for technical education, which has grown from 824 teaching and training centres in 2003 to 1207 in 2013, according to figures by the ministry. Technical education has been one of the main ways to combat youth unemployment. Authorities have been trying to close the gap between technical training centres and job market needs by opening up a larger number of training opportunities in sectors such as construction, tourism and agriculture. To this end, in October 2014 Noureddine Bedoui, the minister of training and professional education, inaugurated a technical training institute focused on agriculture in Mascara, which will train around 1000 students on fruit growing, farming and irrigation techniques. The MFEP is opening a training centre focused on automotives in Oued Tlelat, where French car manufacturer Renault opened a factory in November 2014. Additional centres geared towards the automotive industry will be opened before the end of 2014 in Constantine, Rouiba and Sidi Bel Abbès.

Tourism has also been a key focus area, with 85 professional training centres now responsible for 45% of the sector’s workforce. In 2013 the Ministry of Tourism and Handicraft signed an agreement with the MFEP to increase the number of sector professionals enhancing their skills through these centres. The goal is to be able to upgrade skills for 300,000 workers.

Employer Engagement

Better training is also expected to come through engagement with the business and industrial sectors. In January 2014 the MFEP signed a partnership with SOMIK, a subsidiary of state-owned Sonatrach in charge of industrial maintenance of hydrocarbons facilities in Skikda. The ministry will upgrade workers’ skills at state-run training centres, while the company will host internships for young professionals coming out of technical education centres.

Such agreements are increasingly helping young Algerians to access initial work experience and training, while opening a variety of sectors to entry-level professionals with domestic and foreign companies operating in the country. In October 2013, for example, authorities in the wilaya (province) of Constantine, signed agreements with Turkish and Chinese companies operating in construction projects in the area to open 900 positions for Algerian interns.

Pressure For Employment

Change has also been encouraged by mounting social pressure. Following protests in Ouargla over insufficient employment opportunities in 2013, authorities implemented measures to increase work positions. A new measure made it compulsory for government energy companies to hire workers from the specific provinces. The government also opened a new training centre for the energy sector and established low-interest loans for entrepreneurs.

Aligned with the right financial incentives, technical education can play a bigger role in tackling unemployment levels. This can be achieved both through companies employing technical graduates and as well as through state support for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses after completing technical courses.

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The Report: Algeria 2014

Health and Education chapter from The Report: Algeria 2014

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