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Taking the fast track towards working in tourism

Lining up for the cookery course: people taking part in courses relating to the tourism sector

Khouloud Hosni knows exactly what she wants to do in future: to become independent and open her own restaurant. "The idea came to me because of my great passion for cooking", says the 27-year-old. She has a university degree in pharmaceutical biotechnology, but she doesn't see any prospects in this field in Tunisia. She does believe however – despite the current restrictions due to the corona pandemic – that there will be opportunities and concrete prospects of working in tourism, which provided around 400,000 jobs in Tunisia before the crisis. That's why she's taking part in a four-week training course at the "Centre de Formation Touristique de Nabeul". This vocational college in the coastal town of Nabeul, around 70 kilometres from the capital Tunis, prepares young women and men for jobs in catering and the hotel industry. "The training enabled me to extend my knowledge", says Hosni.

These vocational training courses focus on the areas of kitchen, room service, restaurant and bar, and are offered by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ GmbH). They form part of the "Returning to New Opportunities" programme run by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The courses are aimed both at people who left Germany to return to Tunisia and are now receiving assistance with their career prospects and at local Tunisians seeking new employment opportunities close to home. The Tunisian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration (CTA), which GIZ operates on behalf of the BMZ, provides both groups with advice on career opportunities available to them.

Learning under strict compliance with the corona rules

Holiday guests are enjoying the mild autumnal weather in Hammamet, a town next to Nabeul. Not far from the beach at this seaside resort is the "Institut Supérieur de Formation aux Métiers du Tourisme" (ISFMTH), another state-run vocational college focusing on tourism. It also brings young women and men together to receive training. Hamza Labidi is one of them. "I dream of starting a career in the hotel industry", says the 21-year-old. The "Restaurant and Bar" course focuses on the practical knowledge needed to work in the hospitality sector. Instructor Mnasri Arbi stands at the front by the blackboard and explains how to present attractive-looking beverages.


Other courses teach participants how to create desserts or prepare hotel rooms. They can then put what they have learned into practice – while still complying with health and safety provisions. The organisers attach great importance to complying with rules to ensure the safety of all trainees and teachers during the corona pandemic. These include social distancing, regular disinfection of hands, temperature measurements and wearing protective clothing.

Wael Jemai has already qualified as a confectioner and would like to continue his training.

New career prospects

The fact that the training can continue this way despite the pandemic is a win-win situation for everyone. "I've really learnt a lot, which means now that I've got a much better chance of finding a job", says Labidi. "I really want to do that, because I hate being unemployed", his friend Wael Jemai agrees. The 30-year-old comes from Jendouba in western Tunisia. He has already completed his training as a confectioner. He would like to continue his training so he can improve his employment prospects. "I've been enthusiastic about cooking and baking since I was a child, and I would like to learn more about it. I'm making progress, and I hope to be able to show what I can do by working in a restaurant." This morning in the vocational college he learned how to prepare fresh pizza dough and tomato sauce. Now he's looking forward to placing his first home-made pizza in the oven.

As well as Labidi and Jemai, around 60 other young women and men are taking part in training sessions at the two vocational colleges. These short training courses are intended to make it easier for those who attend to find work in Tunisia. The participants applied to the CTA Tunisian-German Centre to get a place on the training programme. The GIZ advice centre works together with the national employment agency ANETI (Agence National pour l’Emploi et le Travail Indépendant) and the Tunisian Hotel Association FTH (Fédération Tunisienne de l’Hôtellerie) to select suitable applicants.

Professionals urgently required

Everyone is given a certificate at the end of the course, which for some is the passport to full-time employment. Many hotels have high demand for staff, particularly in room service. Those who attend this course in particular but also other courses have concrete job prospects in a local hotel after graduation – even despite the tense situation in tourism at present due to the corona pandemic.

"This training programme offers young people the opportunity to develop their skills", says Mongi Hasni, director of the vocational college in Hammamet. "Most of them come to the hotel industry from a different professional background and are happy to learn new skills. But we also notice that many of them are worried by the current situation in the labour market." They are uncertain whether the tourism sector will recover. Hasni is however convinced that the sector will remain important for the country: "The crisis will be over one day." Those who took part in the training courses will then be in a great position to help shape the sector's future.

As of: 11/2020

I've really learnt a lot, which means now that I've got a much better chance of finding a job.
Hamza Labidi

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