A group of Tunisian students enrolled in the IOM program | Photo: IOM
A group of Tunisian students enrolled in the IOM program | Photo: IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been supporting 31 young Tunisians to develop their work skills and find jobs back home through internships in Belgium. 80 percent of them have found a job since their return.

With a 20-month “labor migration” initiative linking Belgium and Tunisia, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) wants to help 31 Tunisian students and university graduates build up their skills and increase their chances of finding an adequate job.

Launched in March 2018 and running through October 2019, the scheme titled “Enhancing Tunisian Youth Employability through Professional Internships in Belgian Companies” receives financial support from the government of Belgium through its immigration office.

According to IOM, the scheme seeks to address the “dual challenge of the high rate of unemployment among young Tunisians and the persistent risk of youth resorting to dangerous, irregular migration.”

Internships at companies in Belgium

Through IOM support and the creation of a network of public organizations and private enterprises in both Belgium and Tunisia, the young people were granted 6-month internships at 12 companies in Belgium.

After having completed their internships in Belgium, all participants are now back in Tunisia, where 80 percent of them have found a job in a local enterprise, IOM said.

The remaining 20 percent of participants receive five months of support to find employment, including additional training to further enhance their professional skills.

“IOM in Belgium has developed several initiatives exploring new legal migration channels to Belgium, including the present project,” IOM representative Laura Palatini was quoted in an online statement published on September 13.

“The creation of alternative pathways for third-country nationals to Belgium, and to the EU in general, is critical not only as a way to decrease the flows of risky, irregular migration, but also as a solution to labor and skills' shortages across the labor markets of EU Member States,” Palatini said further.

Joblessness leads to migration

According to a survey by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on population and employment for the second quarter of 2016, the high rate of unemployment in Tunisia has been among the main problems all governments in charge since the revolution, which started in 2010, tried to address.

The overall unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2016 was 15.6 percent. Among higher education graduates, it was even 30.5 percent.

“This situation remains a big challenge and contributes to internal instability, as well as representing a strong driving factor towards regular and irregular migration towards Europe,” IOM said in the statement.

One of the participants quoted on the IOM website, Sarah Ben Said, noted that experience abroad was a big advantage in Tunisia. “This experience has taught me a sense of responsibility, to be more independent and have more confidence in my choice,” she said.

 

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