Magharebia (Washington DC)

Mauritania: Local Job Initiative Spotlights Technical Training

Nouakchott — Mauritania is looking to help unemployed youth through a new technical training programme.

Mauritania just launched a massive national programme to get more young people into work.

The programme, which covers all urban local authorities across the country, is meant to "support those completing technical and professional training courses", the National Agency for the Promotion of Youth Employment (ANAPEJ) said on January 2nd.

The initiative aims to "ensure they have a permanent job, and helps them make the most of their knowledge to meet the demand for services across all technical and professional fields".

Each of those signed up for the programme will receive a total of 800,000 ouguiyas (2,000 euros).

"The programme will enable a number of employment opportunities to be created for those coming out of technical and professional training, by financing projects relating to the specialities and skills of the beneficiaries," Vocational Training and Employment Minister Mohamed Ould Khouna said.

"Employment for young people is one of the priorities in the programme set out by President Ould Abdel Aziz," he added.

Thousands of jobs for young people have been created over the years because of funding for small businesses and revenue generating activities (AGRs), according to the minister.

"This programme is a sign of the political will of the president to encourage technical and vocational training as a lever for youth employment, and a way of releasing the talents of young professionals specialising in all spheres of development so that they can bear fruit in local communities within the country," ANAPEJ chief Beit-Allah Ould Ahmed Lessouad told Magharebia.

"Those on the programme have recently received training on setting up and managing micro projects. Those AGRs that have received finance cover domestic electricity, woodworking, welding, plumbing, refrigeration and air conditioning," he added.

This project is important in more than one respect, economist Sall Hamidou noted.

"The current situation in the Mauritanian economy, marked by a significant deterioration in basic social indicators and rising levels of poverty among a small minority of vulnerable individuals, has encouraged better use of the potential of young people, who are suffering from chronic unemployment and under-employment," the economist said.

"Optimal use of this sector of the population as part of this programme will enable us not only to conduct a lasting campaign against endemic poverty, but also help more widely in generating added value nationally and strengthening general demand as a driver for economic growth," he added.

Integrating youth employment into public and macroeconomic policy is more than just a social and economic imperative, he said.

"The ANAPEJ activity should help to underpin the work it is already doing, and to kick-start a trend of youth employment at all levels, in both urban and rural areas," Hamidou said.

The youth unemployment situation has long been a key focus of Mauritanian activists. A new group calling itself the "New Thought Movement" recently joined the push for change.

At a media appearance late last month, the group's president, Mohamed Ould Ghada, called for "unifying young Mauritanians to rebuild the state, renounce obsolete mentalities and ideas, and review perceptions of what is taking place in the political, cultural and intellectual arena in order to overcome the current reality, which does not serve development, openness and growth".

"Mauritanian politicians do not form their positions based on principles. They bargain and change their political positions depending on circumstances and events," he added.

Ould Ghada's movement plans to use dialogue to push for change in the nation's cultural values and political thinking.

Political analyst Said Ould Habib explained that the movement was part of "a new revolution among young Mauritanians against traditions and existing political and social mentalities that date from the pre-modern state".

Ould Habib added that the young people were seeking to challenge racism, the perception of women and outdated values.

"We are not asking for a political and social change by violence but by relying on critique and political statements," he said.

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