The Euro Mediterraneo future: there is AlmaLaurea too

29 March 2011

“AlmaLaurea permit to rebuilt the reliance between two worlds, the labour market and the educational system that is often neglected”. Gerard Mayen is a Human capital development specialist, Operations Department of the European Training Foundation, an agency of the European Union founded in Turin in 1990 to contribute to the development of the education and training systems of the EU partner countries. During the International Conference, “Human capital and employment in the European and Mediterranean area” Mayen gives positive comments on the role that AlmaLaurea could have in the Arab world. "The AlmaLaurea methodology could be easily applied in other Mediterranean countries". "It is the basis for all those who need to decide about their future, students and families, their economic development, enterprises, and policy development”.
Talking about the effects that the Arab Spring could have into the Mediterranean labour market, Mayen is rather pessimistic. "I hope I’m wrong –he says- but I’m afraid that graduates from the region will not have a real improvement of their situation in the coming months. The construction of the Euro-Med Area is a necessity, but it will take a long time, because it requires so much cooperation and little political interest".

Do you think that the AlmaLaurea model is a useful tool and that it could be replicated in other countries too?
“The answer is yes, of course. In the AlmaLaurea conference on “Human capital and employment in the European and Mediterranean area” we had a very good presentation about the data AlmaLaurea analysed in Italy which are extremely interesting. In France such kind of tracer study exists which is relatively comparable with what AlmaLaurea is doing in Italy. What is maybe more important for me at this stage is the capacity to develop methodologies to analyse the data. What AlmaLaurea has developed could be easily applied by the Mediterranean countries and allow for comparison, even if so far we see quite a big difference of quality in data production. The pilot project initiated with Morocco could be extended with, for example, Tunisia which disposes of very good data systems”.

What added value could the AlmaLaurea have?
“AlmaLaurea connects the labour market and the educational system, and as such contributes to a good evidence-based information system, which is the basis for all those who need to decide about their future (the students and families), their economic development (enterprises) and policy development (Government). In addition to the information system, the setting-up of platforms of discussion and exchange between those interested is a key issue. This would contribute to develop higher education systems based on quality and more relevant to labour market needs. By engaging this cooperation with the actors of the labour market (employees and employers) and economic sectors this would allow identifying what market trends are and accordingly move towards mechanisms for permanent adaption of curricula. Additionally this would provide information to develop qualifications framework, guidance and counselling mechanisms and last but not least contribute to rebuild confidence and trust between two worlds which ignore each other too much”.

What will be the effects of the Arab spring on the Mediterranean labour market, especially for the young graduates?
“Unfortunately I wouldn’t say that I am very optimistic. I think that the Arab spring will neither dramatically change the reality of the labour market in the region, nor the systems, institutions and frameworks in place at short notice. Considering that the reality is the domination of the labour market by very small and small enterprises and a huge informal sector, combined with a high level of unemployment, a very high growth of population in working age (60 millions of youth is expected to join the workforce in the next decade) the scenarios are not extremely positive. Maybe in contexts like Tunisia, where there is a kind of consciousness of doing something new and where the leaders of the spring revolution – we call it like that - are mostly the middle and the middle-upper classes and graduated students, you have let’s say a good level of brains together. If they are able to think to the future together they will go ahead, but I don’t think it will come very soon, this will require time. I’m afraid that graduates from the region will not have a real better situation in the coming months. I hope I’m wrong”.

What is in your opinion the common future of the Euromed area?
“My personal opinion is that this is the interest of all to build and continue working on this cooperation; for example we have this very bad situation regarding the decrease of the population in Europe, while on the contrary there is population increase in the Southern Mediterranean region. At least I think there are some movements in one way or another, that we will not be able to stop, which will be even mediated by both sides. I think a very good proposal made during a discussion here was to invite the northern brains to go to the South. We are all neighbours so the closer we will be the better we will live together. It will take time, needs to be less politicised for example by the conflicts between Israel and Palestine, and quite more human and based on the interface between people. Putting people together (the peer to peer approach) helps to think better and to act better. This can be decided through political decisions, but it can be done as well from natural use of movement of people. So let’s be positive”.

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