Solar energy in Tunisia: vocational training for experts

A new education and vocational training programme is improving labour market opportunities and paving the way for the use of renewable energy.

Ibtihel Boughami is optimistic about the future. The 26-year-old works for a photovoltaic company in the Tunisian city of Sousse. After majoring in physics and energy at university, she was unemployed for more than two years. Then, thanks to a training course to become a photovoltaic systems installer, she found a job and is now a project manager. Boughami says, ‘I’m really happy with my job and I hope that I will have a career in the photovoltaic sector.’

By 2030, Tunisia plans to cover a third of electricity requirements with renewable energy sources. The country enjoys more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, so conditions for generating solar energy are excellent. At present, however, 97 per cent of electricity requirements are being met with gas and oil, as there are still relatively few photovoltaic plants. Expansion in this area has been hindered due to the lack of a structured training programme for solar energy professionals. Meanwhile, 30 per cent of Tunisian graduates, many of whom have technical degrees, are currently unemployed. Needs-based employment programmes are therefore a top priority for the Tunisian Government.

On behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA), and working with local partners, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has developed an education and training system to recruit new installers and offer experts improved training opportunities. The new courses were developed in cooperation with the private sector. Since 2017, all photovoltaic installers in the country have had to complete 60 hours of mandatory training, made up of half theory and half practice. In addition to courses for newcomers and those changing careers, there are also courses for skilled experts that build on their previous knowledge.

The new training system trains experts in Tunisia using a practice-based approach and to international quality standards. A number of training centres have partnered with private sector companies, allowing trainees to complete a dual apprenticeship that includes hands-on experience. The growth of the training system has also resulted in an increase in the number of training centres, from just one in 2015 to a current total of 12. Graduate job seekers like Ibtihel Boughami have a further advantage: companies carefully select their future employees even before courses begin, with the aim of recruiting them once they have completed their training.

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