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Tunisia: ”Training should be the place where the entrepreneurial notion is refined”

Why our young people do not create more businesses? Are we sure that training will solve the problem of transition from training to entrepreneurship to training in entrepreneurship? These and other questions were asked to Ibrahim Toumi, the Director General of the Tunisian Agency for vocational training in order to explain the relationship between entrepreneurship and training.

Five months after the Tunisian Revolution of Tunisia, has the Tunisian Agency for Vocational Training changed direction?

After the revolution and in all areas including vocational training, one must look closely at aspects of each region and take them into account. We must provide concrete answers to the needs of each governorate. Otherwise we will miss the opportunity offered by the Revolution and divert from the real objectives of this transition.

The relationship between entrepreneurship and training: how far has this process advanced?

In fact, the relationship between training and entrepreneurship is quite complex. Because, training people in entrepreneurship, means trying to correct things done incorrectly. I think that entrepreneurship must begin before vocational training, that is to say be started even at primary and high schools.

Training should be the place where we refine this entrepreneurial notion because the idea and the desire to create an entrepreneur should exist before.

In terms of training, young trainees are beginning to have areas where they can become entrepreneurs in the car-mechanics, cooking-pastry making, hotels etc… If we get activated in these areas, we could have several initiatives.

Today, what I am calling for and at the level of the ATFP is that it assesses the current situation because we have participated in several experiments since the 90s.
For example, we started with the so-called centers of training and promotion of self-employment in some regions where we had chosen at the time the inner areas of the country given the absence of Investment in these areas. Subsequently, we had a lot of projects aimed to create a culture of entrepreneurship among students of vocational training while developing targeted activities to enhance the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the training and after graduation.

Despite the importance of these experiences, shortcomings persist. This is why I asked for an assessment that is as objective as possible of everything we have invested to date in this area to find the best solutions to better fructify this aspect.

In my opinion, the best training is training that could lead to project creators not job seekers.

Moreover, we aim to create business incubators in our own centers. We have already implemented ones since late December in Nabeul and we have others that will be implemented soon in other regions.

 Is there a clear vision to create more entrepreneurial culture, especially as it has not grown during the years despite the major efforts in this area?

Yes, there is already a will shared by many people, eager to promote the training device. However, there are external difficulties. In this context, I think we should see things in their global dynamics. It is not static and it is not in a key phase. We must convince trainees to well build this spirit. We must act on the psychological dimension of the promoter to prepare him for the initiative. Not forgetting to prepare him to communicate with stakeholders in the creative process.

There is also the problem of the individual contribution of self-financing for the implementation of projects. This is a major concern for most young entrepreneurs. The ministry in charge has begun to make contributions in order to solve some problems.

There are other points on which we must respond. In our case, we will try to generalize a course on entrepreneurship at all levels. We now have about 100,000 young people in training. I would like to see 60 to 70 thousand people take a course of at least 2 to 3 weeks on the entrepreneurial spirit. This is not an academic course. On the contrary, it will be in the form of entertainment clubs.

Has the ATFP thought to strengthen its partnership with donors, namely the BTS and BFPME to help young innovators since their first steps?

I think actually of strengthening relations especially with the BTS because graduates of vocational training are generally in the individual sector or small business. Few are the training graduates who are moving towards major projects.

We have friendly relations with this institution, but we have no formal relations. I know that our department is acting to this end with all parties if there are ways to improve the conditions for granting loans for young people to quickly create their own projects.

How do you see the future of training?

If together we can fill these gaps and shortcomings, the future can only be better. In fact, and despite the fragile situation, I am optimistic and the next few years will see a lot of investment. And I hope we will have a call for skilled labor.


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