Economic development has allowed Morocco to start competing in new industries and innovative sectors, driven by the country’s Industrial Emergence Plan. However, it has also exposed a lack of adequate qualified human resources in certain essential areas.

TRAINING: The need to increase the number of engineers for different industrial sectors was first tackled in 2006, when the government set a target of training 10,000 engineers a year by 2010. According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the number of engineers enrolled in manufacturing and construction programmes in the kingdom grew from 2829 in 2005 to 10,300 by 2010. But authorities want to raise ambitions in terms of educating more experts for a host of economic sectors. The Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Training is aiming to see an average of 15,000 new engineers graduate every year by 2015. By 2020, authorities hope this figure will rise to about 25,000 engineers joining the labour market each year.

DEMAND: Strategic planning is increasing the need for skilled employees. Nationwide plans for agriculture, renewable energy and tourism attest to the kingdom’s development surge. This results in significant demand for human resources, which the country cannot currently supply. With the government pushing to increase the share of aeronautics, automotive and offshoring in GDP, the strain is compounded.

“If we want growth to continue we need to increase the number of engineering graduates. The market will absorb them,” Adnane Boukamel, director of Ecole Hassania des Travaux Publics (EHTP), a Moroccan engineering school, told OBG. Institutions like EHTP, Ecole Mohammadia d’Ingenieurs (EMI), Ecole Nationale de l’Industrie Minérale and Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Electricité et de Mécanique are among traditional schools that have been building skills for years. With both well-established facilities and new private universities, there are roughly 40 institutions now offering post-baccalaureate programmes in engineering.

Institutions like EHTP and EMI are some of the most reputable offering technical university programmes.

EHTP was created specifically to serve the construction sector, but has since extended its offer to other areas such as mineral engineering, telecoms or hydro engineering. It trains about 300 engineers every year, and also has an extra 90 engineering MBA students.

Founded in 1971, it remains under the umbrella of the Ministry of Equipment and Transport, with 40% of its financing coming from the state.

EMI adds approximately 500 new engineering graduates to the market yearly, to work in sectors such as construction, mechanical engineering, information technology (IT) and mineral engineering. Graduates from both EHTP and EMI have high employability rates, with students heavily sought after by top employers.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: Even with 10,000 engineers joining the market per year, Morocco still has just 8.6 engineers per 10,000 people, compared to 64 per 10,000 in France and 540 per 10,000 in Japan.

In order to close this gap, Morocco will need to attract foreign engineering schools to increase the educational offering for domestic students, while also maintaining standards. The minister of education signed an agreement with France’s National Institute of Applied Sciences to help with the training of Moroccan teachers in scientific research and teaching prac-tices. The ministry is also currently in negotiations with other engineering schools to open campuses in the kingdom over the coming years.

The focus on building the number of students studying engineering should enhance the pool of qualified staff, a crucial development as the country increasingly relies on highly technical sectors such as renewable energy and IT to support economic growth. To secure the required number of students for tertiary-level courses, primary and secondary schools also need to continue raising the standards of mathematics and sciences teaching so that Morocco’s youth can become the workforce that is needed for the future.