France, which is very active in Tunisia through its businesses, maintains a multifaceted cooperation to improve access to employment for Tunisians for the benefit of both countries. In fact, the issue of employment and Unemployment remains a major concern for Tunisians as for French.
The two countries have realized the interest of joining forces and ideas for fight against unemployment affecting especially young graduates, mainly channels in general field and literature. Pierre Ménat, Ambassador of France to Tunis talks about these issues in an interview with Africanmanager.
What about the participation of France in “Employment Forum” organized recently?
The participation of France in this forum is total. It is a joint exercise between Embassy of France and the Tunisian French Chamber for Trade and Industry (CTFCI). We presented this project to the Tunisian government, to Slim Tlatli then Agrebi Mohamed, Training and Employment Minister, who not only approved the project but wished to be part of it. The idea is to hold a Franco-Tunisian employment forum.
Why such a forum?
We believe that employment is the first problem addressed by Tunisians as well as French. As ambassador of France and as friendly country, we must try to help address this concern by developing professional training, knowing France has a broad mix which passes through its business es and training bodies.
Indeed, there was not enough awareness of all the schemes we have; that is why the organization of this forum is an opportunity for explaining things done for employment and training. Let me outline some elements. First, there are jobs offered by companies. Recall that Franco-Tunisian firms created so far 1200 jobs. Apart from companies, we have programs that provide aid for training under an agreement on joint management of migration and solidarity development. In this respect, it is important to highlight three aspects:
Aid for vocational training mobilizing about 40 million Euros to help young Tunisians find a job.
We have offered around 9000 jobs, as part pertaining to 77 different trades and for which we have found since several months only 2500. This employment forum would probably allow completing the remaining ones.
Finally, we provide return aids for illegal immigrants in France. The aid takes the form of aid for business creation and can go up to 20,000 Euros. This is result of an agreement between the OFFI (French office for immigration and integration responsible for promoting immigrants among businesses and sectoral federations in France and Tunisia) and ANETI (Tunisian agency for vocational training).
Did you work out such a strategy to address this challenge?
It must be said that the employment strategy is decided by the Tunisian government. Besides, His Excellency Mr. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Republic, has given this a high political priority. He wished mobilize all the services, institutions and companies in the country to make this issue of employment and training Vocational great national cause. As a friendly country, we support Tunisia in this strategy.
As for the management agreement, it is valid for 3 years. We will see in 2011 whether to expand it or curtail it. In fact, employment is not something that is ordained by the diplomatic corps. Employment exists or not. We cannot offer Tunisians jobs where there are full things. Jobs are offered in areas where there is more supply than demand. A number of jobs are quite technical, namely the field management, engineering.
Why not. In the meantime, there are teachers, training specialists, Arabic teachers, bank executives knowing we have such a shortage in this field. A complete list … but the problem is obviously the training targeting them. Unfortunately, flexibility is lacking as it is the case in other countries.
Do you think that this forum is part of strengthening bilateral relations?
I think that a strong friendship unites France and Tunisia; we must use the best of so as the affinities and friendships between the two peoples will get strengthened further and so we find all ways and means to do even more and better.
We hope that these relationships meet the needs and the expectations of our companies. We must go to companies to check their expectations. On the other hand, we would like to see more cultural products, more jobs. I set my priorities in line with that. The first priority is linked to employment. The second focuses on audiovisual. In this respect, it is important to note that we are preparing an Audiovisual day. This event will be held, on October 26, 27, 2010. We are currently in the process of seeking a Tunisian partner for this event.