Interview: Mohamed Mebarki
What is needed to spur the development of vocational training over the medium term in Algeria?
MOHAMED MEBARKI: One of the key strategies in the medium-term, is encouraging greater involvement from companies in the training process. This has many advantages, as it is considered the most cost-effective training method, one that suits the needs and realities of the workplace in this region.
Strategies to reinforce professional training in Algeria are supported by Instruction No. 343 dated November 17, 2013, which encourages companies and organisations to be involved in the development of skilled labour with the goal of improving employment options for young Algerians. The same statement calls on all government departments working with foreign firms to include a clause that guarantees apprenticeships and the development of national trainers in the fields in which they operate.
To this end, the expertise-programmes we are developing with foreign companies operating in Algeria, and with those involved in partnerships with private Algerian companies, are intended to provide these firms with skilled human resources. These companies will also play a key role by identifying new trades, participating in the development of training programmes and assessing the potential of graduates of vocational training programmes.
The development of vocational training has been reinforced by tangible investments. By the end of 2015, there will be a total of 1213 functional professional training institutions, three times the number in 1999. Similarly, the annual development budget increased from AD4.2bn (€38.6m) in 2000 to AD37bn (€340.4m) in 2014, an increase of 778%.
Over the medium term, centres of excellence in the fields of agriculture, construction, automotive, energy and ICT will be established to ensure that training quality meets international standards. We are also seeking to strengthen and improve the referral system for students who want a vocational education. This training programme can help students enhance their employability, by facilitating their transition into the business world. This new system will do so by monitoring human resources, examining what qualifications are needed and implementing programmes in strategic areas identified by the action plan of the government.
What is the role of vocational training in the revival and diversification of the Algerian economy?
MEBARKI: Vocational education will constitute an important compliment to the Algerian economic development programme by provisioning skilled labour, stimulating competitiveness and aiding business development. To this end, we have established partnerships in a number of economic sectors to identify training needs and develop the necessary skills. Training and vocational education are critical components of the government’s plan to diversify the economy, through the development of small businesses run by recent Algerian graduates.
How can vocational training reach remote areas?
MEBARKI: The types of training sought in remote areas are usually those related to land, such as traditional handicrafts, agriculture, aquaculture, sewing and construction. However, needs are also felt in other areas, with demand in areas as diverse as hairdressing and computer technology.
Vocational education should be conducted and developed in collaboration with local authorities, using telecentres and technology to make distance learning more feasible. It is important that vocational training be made available and accessible in rural areas, so that all residents, including girls, have access to it. Each year, nearly 15,000 training positions are reserved for this category, as vocational education is an issue that effects of all of Algeria, not only cities.
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