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Skills to Succeed for South Tunisia’s youth

OMV has empowered hundreds of people with new skills to find a job, by implementing a long-lasting community development initiative in the region of Tataouine. Journey with us into South Tunisia and find out how the initiative has impacted the lives of the local communities.

It was a time of great uncertainty in the city of Tataouine in Tunisia. The 149,000 residents of the small city south of the capital Tunis had experienced the aftermath of the 2011 revolution not only as liberating, but also challenging. High unemployment rates – up to 51% and even higher for youth unemployment – led to a bleak outlook for the future of entire generations.

A rough start

Kamel Louhichi was one of those people. Unemployed and angry about the total lack of opportunities, one day in 2013 the young man found himself in the facilities of Skills to Succeed. The goal of the OMV initiative was to contribute to the development of economic life in the region by building and developing skills and offering trainings fanging from vocational programs to entrepreneurial support.

But Kamel was still skeptical. “At first, he refused to talk to anyone and said that he would have no chance of being selected for a training program. He was convinced that the selection process was unfair, that he was not well-connected enough. Which of course was not the case, as everybody is treated equally and deserves his or her chance”, remembers Amna Tounekti, the first local employee of Skills to Succeed when the initiative started in 2013 and now OMV Community Relations Specialist.

“I sat down with him and explained the program and the possibilities. And that he was more than welcome to join. But only on the next course, because the first welding workshop had already started.” So Kamel returned half a year later, got selected and trained in a welding workshop that gave him the skills to work in one of the regions oil fields in the desert. But still, Kamel struggled to find employment, as the program does not automatically guarantee its graduates a job, but focuses on boosting their general employability.

This training opened the door for me to many opportunities on the job market, but it also opened my eyes to see things from a different perspective. So instead of looking for a job, I launched my own project – now I earn even more than I used to get monthly.

Getting into the entrepreneurial spirit

But the seed of personal development was already sown. So Kamel approached Skills to Succeed with his new idea: He wanted to start his own business by using the skills he had learned in welding and rough iron. The initiative was happy to help get the project off the ground and enabled Kamel to start up his own welding workshop. Here he also trains more people in this profession, keeping the spirit of Skills to Succeed going for years to come.

The long-term effect of Skills to Succeed was always key for OMV when approaching the topic of making a positive impact in a local community. After more than four years hundreds of trained graduates have started their own companies, again creating jobs and continuing to enrich economy and strengthen their communities.

From Tataouine into the world

A good example is the story of Rafik Aloui. He was an unemployed university graduate by the time he took part in a one-month training session for desert defensive driving trainers, an important job educating drivers about safe ways of driving under special conditions in the desert. He completed his training with excellent grades, began to work as an independent trainer and was able to win several contracts with contracting training centers with oil companies.

Joining the Desert Defensive Driving Training was literally a turning point in my professional career. At that time I used to have low self-esteem and I weas very pessimistic about my future. That's all changed.

He then decided to launch his own private training center providing services the health and safety sector. “He used to be insecure, now he’s working all over the world”, says Amna who speaks fondly of the gratitude he expressed over the course of his development. He achieved his goal thanks to his own persistence, his determination to succeed and the quality of his services which helped him gain a secure position on the national and international market, also with OMV. Now he supports his own family and has recruited three employees, offering them a way out of unemployment – just as Skills to Succeed did for him.

Skills to Succeed continues

Having an impact on the life of community members like Rafik and Kamel has made Skills to Succeed the sustainable and successful program that it is today – training and inspiring hundreds of participants to get jobs and set up new companies all around Tataouine. In 2017 the initiative was turned into an independent organization continuing its services for the development of local community and serving as a sought-after kickstarter for new job opportunities in the area. “It is great to see that the strategy to implement a long lasting, sustainable program with a strong focus on a “Train the trainer” system really makes a difference in the community”,  says Amna.

Facts & Figures about “Skills to Succeed” in Tunisia:

  • More than 1,300 direct beneficiaries trained and coached.
  • 51 small businesses and 368 jobs created.
  • 963 young men and women were trained in various disciplines include pipe-welding, pipefitting, instrumentation and desert defensive driving, building a business, hydroponic green barley production, arts & crafts, alternative tourism, etc.
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