Tag Archives: Vocational Training

Med Change Makers e06 : Alexandra FLAYOLS, Education & Integration of the Marrakech youth


FEMISE recently launched its series of interviews called « Med Change Makers ».

« Med Change Makers » are text and video-based interviews that allow dynamic researchers of the FEMISE network to illustrate how their research addresses a policy-relevant question and how it contributes to the policy-making process in the Euro-Mediterranean region.


The key role of education in the professional integration of young people in the Marrakech region 

Interview with Alexandra Flayols, Université de Toulon, FEMISE

FEMISE recently published the Policy Brief « The key role of education in the professional integration of young people in the Marrakech region »

Author of the MED BRIEF, Dr. Alexandra Flayols highlights the important role of secondary education in gaining access to paid employment. However, many young people drop out of school early. The analysis of reasons for stopping studies is essential so that public authorities can put in place effective measures. Interview :

1. In this policy brief, early-stage obstacles to the professional integration of young people are explored, notably regarding access to education. However, aren’t there other key factors hindering this insertion? So why is it more optimal to invest in education?

Education is obviously not the only factor influencing the professional integration of young Moroccans. Several studies have highlighted the existence of other factors that can constrain the professional integration of young people. These factors may include previous work experience, the young person’s financial situation, mobility, the socio-professional category of the parents, active labor market policies, etc.

Regarding the factors that can more specifically be attached to the Moroccan case, the place of residence may for example hinder the professional integration of the youth. The region of Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz (MTH), which is the subject of this study, is mainly rural (198 rural communes against 18 urban). Although the OCEMO survey (2008) used in this work does not allow to distinguish the place of residence due to lack of data, our results show a differentiated impact of the level of education in urban and rural areas. In addition, the lack of job creation in the private sector, despite the lower dynamic demand for workers in the public sector, which until the 1990s was the largest employer of skilled workers, generates additional insertion obstacles.

We have chosen to focus on education because besides the fact that it is a determining factor of professional integration, it is a central issue in Morocco where education is experiencing considerable difficulties. Moreover, the fact that having a degree does not constitute a protection against unemployment in Morocco, contrary to the case of developed countries, pushes us to pay particular attention to this problem. Investment in education has become a standard in developed countries, however, while it is important for economies to move up the international value chain, it is not a sufficient condition in the access to employment. The match between trainings, formations and the job market is thus particularly important. The quality of education is also paramount and is highly criticized in Morocco.

2. What are the main reasons you have identified to explain why young people quit their studies in Morocco?

The first reason that pushes young Moroccans to abandon their studies is financial (23%). It is followed by lassitude (21%) and poor school results (15%).

The reasons for dropping out of school are indicative of the difficulties encountered in the education system and may also allow public authorities to target their interventions. Thus, by grouping the different reasons for dropping out according to whether they are voluntary or involuntary, we have seen that 60% of young people are quitting schooling; this rate even reaches 67% in rural areas. We observed other disparities by place of residence, but also by gender. Young girls in rural areas are thus more likely to be refused by their parents the right to peruse their studies (12% versus 6% in urban areas). The distance from school is also an important reason for stopping studies since it concerns 19% of young people in rural areas compared with just 4% in urban areas.

3. You mentioned that reaching the secondary education level is an important pre-requisite for young people, both to improve their probability of continuing their studies and their chances of being better inserted professionally. So what do you think is the best way to make secondary education more attractive to young people?

One of the first ways that could be implemented concerns the quality of education which, as we saw in the previous question, could be a means of encouraging young people to continue their studies. In recent years, private schools have experienced a significant growth in Morocco yet, their quality remains questionable and their high tuition fees reinforce the inequalities in access to education between students of wealthy families and those from a more modest social background.

The quality of education concerns its content as well as the supervision and creation of new schools. The language of learning, for example, causes significant difficulties for some young Moroccans. French, which was considered a foreign language, is now used as the language of instruction in higher education for science and economics. Thus, the orientation of young people who do not have the expected level in French is then constrained.

It is also essential to pay particular attention to the opportunities of the sectors proposed, whether for general education or vocational training. This could be an additional motivation for young people to continue in these streams. Finally, the establishment of bridges in the education system could also reduce the number of drop-outs as young people may be able to reorient themselves more easily.

4. As you pointed out, some schooling drop outs are involuntary. What recommendations would you give the public authorities to limit these cases or at least to facilitate the transition of these young people to the workplace?

Among the involuntary reasons for stopping studies, the financial reason is the most important. These results indicate that there is considerable room for maneuver to improve the retention rate of youth in the MTH region. Although the reforms of the late 1990s have improved access to education, it is still limited in rural areas, especially for young women. It is not necessarily about increasing spending on the education sector, but about better targeted measures such as the Tayssir program. The latter aims to reduce absenteeism by granting scholarships to hard-working students from the poorest households. The pilot phase in some rural communes shows positive results, particularly in the highest levels of education. Our results have shown that a woman with a level of education at least equal to secondary school is 1.7 times more likely to have access to a paid job yet, women’s access to education is particularly constrained in rural areas since they are 1.4 times less likely to have access to secondary education than women in urban areas. Measures targeting this subpopulation would therefore be beneficial.

In addition, the hypothesis of a lack of supervision or teachers or inappropriate content of lessons could explain the lassitude felt by young people as well as their academic failure. The quality of teacher training should therefore also be at the heart of the Moroccan government’s concerns. The congestion rate of sophomore class rooms is also high; therefore, less overcrowded classes would, with no doubt, favor better learning conditions.

Lastly, to facilitate the transition to the workplace, partnerships with companies could be envisaged, particularly with regard to vocational trainings. This would make it possible to better target the needs of the labor market like the SIVP in Tunisia. These partnerships could be accompanied by measures to encourage the hiring of these young people whom the company would have contributed to the training.

5. Are there not different trends in the length of studies and different mechanisms behind the professional integration of young women and men? Would that imply separate recommendations by gender?

Although access to education has improved for women, there are still disparities. We do not have precise data on the duration of studies by gender. However, estimates by Barro and Lee (2010) find a gap of 1.67 years in average length of schooling. In addition, parents’ refusal to continue studying is an important reason for young women’s drop outs, especially in rural areas. The pursuit of education for young women therefore seems more constrained than that of men.

Moreover, dropping out could also correspond to the desire to create a family which is a motive mentioned only by young Moroccan women and never mentioned by men. This choice necessarily has an impact on the professional integration of women either because of a too low level of education if they dropped out of school too early or because of the hard reconciliation between their family responsibilities and their professional life.

Mechanisms targeting professional integration should be differentiated by gender. For example, studies show differences both in the implementation of employability strategies and in the exclusion of certain professional spheres. If the authorities wish to improve young women’s access to the labor market, particular attention should be paid to them.


[1] Stage d’Initiation à la Vie Professionnelle.

The MED BRIEF is available for download by clicking here.

Interview by Constantin Tsakas

This activity received financial support from the European Union through the FEMISE project on “Support to Economic Research, studies and dialogues of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership”. Any views expressed are the sole responsibility of the speakers.

Med Change Makers e04 : Myriam BEN SAAD, Sophistication of productive systems and economic transition in MENA

FEMISE recently launched its new series of interviews called « Med Change Makers ».

« Med Change Makers » are text and video-based interviews that allow dynamic researchers of the FEMISE network to illustrate how their research addresses a policy-relevant question and how it contributes to the policy-making process in the Euro-Mediterranean region.



The sophistication of productive systems as a vector of economic transition in MENA countries and the role of short-term policies

Dr Myriam Ben Saad, Université de Toulon (LEAD), Université Paris Sorbonne, FEMISE

FEMISE has just published its research project FEM42-07, ”Complexification of production as a vector of economic transition and the role of short-term policies”, coordinated by LEAD, Université de Toulon.

Member of the project coordinating team, Dr. Myriam Ben Saad is one of the young FEMISE researchers who actively participates in the activities of the network.

Her work shows the importance of the economic complexity of a country to create more growth and jobs and sketch out clues for the future in the Southern Mediterranean countries.


  1. Your report addresses the issue of the sophistication of productive systems. Why is this issue important for the South of the Mediterranean? 

This question is crucial. We observe large economic disparities between countries, largely due to a low level of economic complexity. The latter is sometimes one of the main causes for which economic growth is limited in the Mediterranean. The productive structure of a country is also a decisive parameter, which explains the inequalities of development within a country. Finally, the productive structure can better predict future economic growth. Unfortunately, today we have very few elements on the models and rhythms of sophistication of the productive systems of MENA countries. Our report seeks to remedy that. We try to understand why some countries remain stuck in the intermediate complexity class and make recommendations to enable them to move towards an advanced complexity class that generates more growth and jobs.

  1. The need to develop innovative sectors is arising in the South. What is the best way to proceed according to your results? Do you have success stories to illustrate?

It is important to have appropriate trade policies to address market failures and especially institutional failures that block the competitiveness of exports. We therefore recommend that MENA countries commit themselves to a proactive strategy of export diversification by rethinking their commercial policy to make it a lever for promoting industrial development and structural transformation.

These countries would have an interest in orienting their policies towards national and regional development objectives by improving economic freedom, in particular through administrative simplification laws. This will contribute to the improvement of the business environment in relation to a labor market reform aimed at making it more flexible, transparent and competitive (labor law).

In addition, the development of innovative sectors (support to certain start-ups, to FDI, to the development of free zones or technological business zones) requires a tax incentive policy. This reminds me of the recent experience of a young Franco-Tunisian engineer, installed in a free zone, who managed to transform the production of fine salt into salt pellets. This productive transformation has not only led to the creation of several skilled and unskilled jobs but also to better dynamics and integration of the area.

  1. You stress the need to reform higher and vocational education. What do you propose as concrete solutions?

A plethora of tools could be put in place. In particular, it would be a question of reinforcing the adequacy of training in relation to new professions, developing partnerships with foreign universities (especially European, Asian or American), but also developing public-private partnerships and using the system of professionalised delocalised diplomas.

  1. Can an improved management of natural resources help to promote growth and employment in the South and how?

MENA countries have large reserves of natural resources, mostly non-renewable, among the largest in the world. Despite significant commercial exploitation of these resources, MENA countries remain one of the least known and least visible geological regions of the planet. If recent gas and oil discoveries are to be believed, the abundance of these resources would fund the MENA transformation agenda. Natural resources could make the difference if they were transformed.

Transformation can be achieved by implementing a range of “smart” structural policies, i.e using the benefits of natural resources to diversify and make the economy more sophisticated, develop industrial zones based on the comparative advantage in natural resources, improve macroeconomic policies to effectively manage the risks associated with the volatility of revenues from natural resources etc.

  1. In your opinion, what should the Southern States do in order of priority to accelerate this process of making their economies more sophisticated?

The past few years have been difficult ones for MENA countries, given the seriousness of the challenges facing this region. While the process of structural transformation has been in progress for the last two decades, it is clear that the process is still in its beginning in the region.

  • To become more sophisticated, improving the education and training system is the first challenge. The training of human capital, particularly through access to higher education (engineering), could facilitate structural change and productive modernization.
  • Improving the quality of institutions and economic and structural vulnerability is the second challenge. In this region, some countries find it difficult to implement measures to transform their productive structures because of persistent corruption, which erodes their capacity.
  • At the macroeconomic level, the first step would be to reduce the corporate tax system, especially for local investors. At the micro level, it would be more about launching new development programs and large-scale projects for young people who work in a company and want to invest in it.

Thus, the countries of the region must find collective and not individual solutions to conduct more favorable trade negotiations with their European trading partners, or even better open-up and conquer new markets, particularly the African market. To achieve this, the region will have to find sectorial complementarities to secure the competitiveness and values of the region at the international level.

The report is available for download by clicking here.

Interviewed by Constantin Tsakas

The need to promote vocational training in Egypt

University education is considered as the royal road in Egypt. It has contributed to the education of far too many students in recent years compared to the needs of the labor market. Vocational education suffers from a lack of image and does not attract young people. However, according to the latest report of Femise, it deserves to be valued given its relevance in the labor market.

In industry, the shortage of technicians hinders the development of companies

Out of 90 million inhabitants, Egypt currently has 2.5 million students. On the benches of the university, enrollment jumped 20% in four years. The budget devoted to higher education has increased from 18 billion pounds in 2013/2014 to 21 billion in 2015/2016 (ie one billion euros). Admittedly, higher education plays a key role in developing countries. But is it necessary to bet on the university when it is skilled workers that lack Egypt? Is vocational training not also a factor in reducing inequalities?

Femise asks these questions in its latest report (FEM 42-10) published in March 2018 entitled ” Inequality and inclusive growth : Are education and innovation favoring firm performance and well-being?” in three parts. The first, coordinated by the economist Inmaculada Martinez-Zarzoso (Jaume I Universities in Spain) in collaboration with Javier Ordonez from the same University and Dr. Mona Said from the American University in Cairo (AUC), analyzes vocational and technical secondary education in Egypt in 1998, 2006 and 2012.

Femise starts from an observation: “The vocational-general education divide results from a phenomenon of class struggle. The elite relegates the members of the “lower class” to technical schools”. In industry, the shortage of technicians hinders the development of companies.


Match vocational training to the needs of the enterprises

Despite the government’s effort to encourage technical education, the number of students dropped by 3% in 2012. According to the study, this phenomenon can be explained by the relatively low level of returns to technical education, which continues to decline, compared to returns to university education (especially for men in the public sector). For women, the returns to education are even lower in the public and private sectors, regardless of their education. Note, however, a smaller gender gap exist in the private sector.

Redesigning technical education could help promote social mobility and equity. “The quality and relevance of vocational education are the keys to effective reform. The labor market lacks skilled workers. The technical pathways suffer from social stigmatization” underlines the report. It is high time to revalue the image of vocational education, believes Femise. Apprentices are generally poorly paid. The Skills Development Project, with the support of the World Bank, directly benefits Egyptian enterprises of vocational training schemes.

Femise suggests strengthening partnerships between training institutions and companies with financial support from the European Union. But, “encouraging private companies to invest in vocational education will be of no use if trainees still face social stigma,” warns Femise.

Access the FEMISE FEM42-10 report by clicking here

Article by in partnership with Econostrum 

Subscribe to the Newsletter of Econostrum : http://www.econostrum.info/subscript


Inequality and inclusive growth : Are education and innovation favoring firm performance and well-being?

FEMISE is pleased to announce the publication of its research project FEM42-10, “ Inequality and inclusive growth in the South Mediterranean region: Are education and innovation activities favoring firm performance and citizens’ wellbeing?”.

The research project was coordinated by Inmaculada Martinez-Zarzoso (University Jaume I and University of Goettingen) and includes the following 3 papers:

Returns to Vocational and University Education in Egypt

While tertiary skills are important for growth in developed countries, it is primary and secondary education that are related to development in developing countries. Despite the substantial expansion in technical and vocational education in Egypt, the labor market lacks technical skilled workers not only in numbers but also in competences. This paper examines the impact of education on labor market outcomes in Egypt, with a focus on returns to vocational secondary and technical higher education in 1998, 2006 and 2012. We provide estimates of incremental rates of return to education based on selectivity corrected earnings equations and quantile regressions that give credence to the view that technical education has generally been inequality reducing in Egypt. The main policy implication of this paper’s analysis is that quality and labor market relevance of vocational education remains the key to an effective reform. Encouraging private businesses to invest in vocational education will be of little use if the trainees are still faced with social stigma that relegates them to low-paid jobs. Therefore, a policy recommendation is to design governmental measures to improve the ‘image’ of vocational education in Egypt.

Gender Gap and Firm Performance in Developing Countries

This paper uses firm-level data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES) to investigate productivity gaps between female and male-managed companies in developing countries and to compare the outcomes obtained for different regions in the world. We depart from the previous literature by using the gender of the top manager as target variable, which is newly available in the 2016 version of the WBES. The main results indicate that it is crucial to distinguish between female management and female ownership and also the confluence between both. We find that when the firms are managed by females and there are not female owners, they show a higher average labour productivity and TFP. However, if females are among the owners and a female is the top manager, then their productivity is lower than for other firms. These results are very heterogeneous among regions. In particular, results in South Saharan Africa, East Asia and South Asia seems to be driving the general results, whereas in Latin America and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, female participation in ownership seems to be negatively related to firm performance.

Real convergence between ENP and southern European countries: a cluster analysis

This paper analyses the convergence pattern of GDP per capita, productivity, inequality and unemployment in both ENP and southern European (SE) countries. It follows the methodology proposed by Phillips and Sul (2007, 2009) in which different convergence paths can be distinguished among heterogeneous economies involved in a convergence process. This heterogeneity is modelled through a nonlinear time varying factor model, which provides flexibility in studying idiosyncratic behaviours over time and across section. The main results from the convergence analysis show that whereas there is convergence in unemployment, GDP per capita and productivity between EU and ENP countries, no convergence is found for inequality. Among the challenges of an evolving neighbourhood, inclusive economic development should be included in the new ENP approach.

11th Mediterranean Economic Rendez-Vous

IMGP0735bThis eleventh conference organized by Institut de la Méditerranée (IM) / FEMISE and the Circle of Economists, was held in the premises of the Villa Mediterranée on Saturday, November 7th, 2015, the final day of the Mediterranean Economic Week. This year the conference revolved around the initiative of the Luxembourg Presidency of the European Union in favor of a closer cooperation between Europe and the Maghreb countries (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia) with regards to vocational training and entrepreneurship.

IMGP0706The Institut de la Méditerranée team, convinced of the role of vocational training for economic and social development and integration, already contributed to the design of this project initiative in the form of a strategic note “For an initiative on Vocational Training of the EU Presidency for Youth Employment in the Maghreb”. The initiative is now considered “an essential first step to address the problem of youth unemployment.” Participants to the conference called for “the creation of a common specific fund to mobilize 200 million that are needed for the program so that this first step for youth employment can be initiated as soon as possible”.

-The Final declaration of RV Med is available (in french) by clicking here

-For a special broadcast on France Culture on the occasion of the 11th RV Med please click here.

-You can also read the following articles on the site of french newspaper LaTribune (in french):

« Quelle formation professionnelle pour lutter contre le chômage des jeunes en EuroMed ? » by Jean-Louis Reiffers, and

« La formation professionnelle, une priorité pour réduire le chômage des jeunes en EuroMed »  by Constantin Tsakas



*  Photo 1. Participants at the conférence, Photo 2. Fathallah Sijilmassi (General Secretary of Union for the Mediterranean) and Nicolas Schmit (Minister of Labour, Employment and Social and Solidarity Economy of Luxembourg), Photos 3 et 4. Participants at the conférence.