May 2, 2019

Which profession, which job, which skills? Insights on competency frameworks in the Tunisian higher education system // Conference Sousse, 17 April 2019


Conference TUNED(Rome, 2 May 2019) – “There are few national projects that deal with a national priority such as student employability: the TUNED platform offers a plus for the employability of our Tunisian youth” said Mr Adel Alimi, the National Erasmus+ Officer in Tunisia, about the TUNED project, Tunisian Network for Employability and Skills Development for Graduates, in the framework of a dedicated conference held in Sousse on April 17th. The conference followed the meeting of the steering committee that took place the day before.

This conference focused on competency frameworks in the Tunisian higher education sector with the aim to enable a dialogue and connection between these framework, the skills needed and the training courses leading to such skills. The main objective of the TUNED project is indeed developing links between students, their curricula and the Tunisian labor market.

The conference brought together the representatives of the nine Tunisian partner universities of the TUNED project (Sfax, Monastir, Kairouan, Tunis, Sousse, Gabes, Gafsa, Carthage and Jendouba), the representatives of the three European partner universities (Naples, Grenada and Cyprus), and representatives of the Ministries of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Vocational Training and Employment, as well as UNIMED, the Mediterranean Universities Union. Companies and students also participated in the debates to share their issues, their needs and their hopes.

The TUNED project, coordinated by the AlmaLaurea Interuniversity Consortium, has enabled the creation of a digital platform linking supply and demand on the Tunisian job market. This platform, as explained by Mr. Rachid Said, Vice-President in charge of Programs, Training and Professional Integration at the University of Monastir, represents “on the one hand, a platform that allows the dissemination of internship and job offers, and, on the other hand, an observatory that allows the analysis of the future of graduates”. It currently includes more than 22,000 CVs of Tunisian partner universities’ graduates. “This, in turn, allows us to take advantage of this TUNED platform, hand in hand with companies, and offers young graduates more visibility” said Mr. Ali Mtiraoui, President of the University of Sousse.

The TUNED project aims at improving the training offer and the employability of Tunisian students. “The issue of employability is important for the Ministry, which is actively involved in the TUNED project as a structuring and supporting entity” said Mrs. Fatma Smaoui, Office of Planning and Programming Studies Officer in the Cabinet of the Minister, Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

TUNED is about “strengthening the links between these two academic and professional environments that sometimes have difficulties to talk to each other” noted Mr. Enrico Dongiovanni, coordinator of the project.

On the one hand, the TUNED web platform provides students with visibility (CVs in Europass and trilingual format – Arabic, French, English), and with a certification by their universities of their academic careers. It offers them the opportunity to apply online for internship and job offers published by Tunisian and international companies on this same platform.

In addition, Tunisian students have the opportunity to participate in statistical surveys to assess their academic experience and their professional integration, thereby contributing to improve the training offer and its adequacy to the job market’s expectations.

On the other hand, the search engine integrated into the platform allows companies to target the profiles of the candidates that are the most suitable to their recruitment’s requirements and to increase the visibility of their internship and job offers.

In addition, the TUNED project allows a transfer of skills from European partners to Tunisian ones, for example when it comes to organizing career days, by providing effective support to students when preparing their CVs, cover letters and job interviews, as well as helping them shape their digital reputation. Tunisian students and companies are therefore provided through this project with a networking, training and a virtual meeting tool.

As noted by Mr Mohamed Selim Oueslati, project manager of competency frameworks at the Tunisian Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment, “the tools linking the supply and demand chains in Tunisia are outdated, frozen in time”. This is the reason why a project such as TUNED can represent a viable and innovative alternative.

The intervention of UNIMED focused on the presentation of one of good practices identified by the Erasmus+ project RESUME, ended on last October, namely the TEMPUS ADIP project, coordinated by the AUF in Lebanon and addressed to the Lebanese and Egyptian universities. This project, among other things, developed guidelines to elaborate the competency framework based on the development of skills. There is indeed a need to better define companies’ needs as far as profiles and skills are concerned, and better identify and value students’ skills. It is necessary to establish an interaction between the academic and the professional realities, so that the academic offer meets the needs of the Tunisian society and the Tunisian economic world. Each link composing this chain is important, as Mr. Ali Mtiraoui, President of the University of Sousse, has pointed out, while emphasizing the essential combination of competency framework, training and skills development.

The conference was characterized by three panels: the first panel focused on the 2018 reports of Tunisian graduates’ profiles, based on questionnaires completed by students and presented by statisticians from Tunisian partner universities. The second panel was an opportunity for various Tunisian companies to present their perspectives and needs. The final panel allowed the European partner universities to make their contributions, particularly on the methods and tools used to establish a relationship with the companies in order to calibrate the courses according to the needs of the socio-economic environment.

This conference brought together universities, students and companies, ultimately reflecting the essence of the TUNED project and the importance of its platform for the employability of young Tunisian graduates.

For further information on the project, you can have a look at the project’s website here.