Call to produce employable graduates

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has called on the government to build skills and tailor higher education graduates towards fields and businesses required in the labour force and for national development.

The call was made on 20 August in the king's speech marking the 60th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People.

Higher education in Morocco faces numerous challenges.

In the World Economic Forum’s 2012-13 Global Competiveness Report, out of 144 countries Morocco was ranked 116 for university-industry collaboration, 104 for quality of research institutions, 101 for higher education and training, 97 for innovation, 75 for technological readiness, 53 for quality of maths and science education and 38 for availability of scientists and engineers.

King Mohammed VI highlighted the challenges hampering universities in helping Morocco achieve socioeconomic development.

“The education sector is facing many difficulties and problems. They are mostly due to the adoption of some syllabi and curricula that do not tally with the requirements of the job market,” said the king.

He added that out-of-date courses were exacerbating graduate unemployment. “Educational institutions which provide such courses should not be factories that produce unemployable graduates, particularly in certain obsolete subjects,” he said.

“Another reason has to do with the disruptions caused by changing the language of instruction from Arabic, at the primary and secondary levels, to some foreign languages for the teaching of scientific and technical subjects in higher education.”

As Morocco’s unemployment continues to grow, education and skills are no longer enough to obtain a job in either the public or private sector, according to a 23 August report titled “Youth Unemployment on the Rise in Morocco”.

While the young Moroccans who are not educated have an even harder time finding jobs, the unemployment rate for educated youth is still high, at 22% among males and 38% among females.

According to the polling company Gallup, one out of every three young Moroccans wants to emigrate to find a job – and this number is growing as education levels rise.

Action plan

The king renewed his request for the government to reform the education system and implement constitutional provisions regarding the Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research. “I call on the government to speed up the adoption of the necessary legal texts relating to the new council,” he said.

Students must be provided with linguistic skills so that they might fully benefit from training, he noted.

Moroccans should be encouraged to master foreign languages, expand their knowledge base, refine their skills and gain the competence needed to be able to work in new professions and areas of employment where there are significant shortages of skilled workers.

“The education sector should, therefore, not be included in the sphere of purely political matters, nor should its management be subjected to outbidding tactics or party politics.

“Rather, it should be part of a cultural, economic and social approach aimed at training and preparing human resources that can be incorporated into a dynamic development process, through an efficient education system,” the king concluded.

While some of the world's oldest universities are located in Morocco, namely the University of Al-Karaouine, the country’s universities do not rate highly in global rankings.

At the regional level, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-13, eight Moroccan universities rank among Africa’s top 100 – Université Mohammed V – Agdal at number 20 followed by Université Cadi Ayyad (45), Al Akhawayn University (46), Université Hassan II – Casablanca (51), Université Abdelmalek Essadi (53), Université Mohammed V – Souissi (60), Université Hassan II – Mohammedia (67) and Université Ibn Tofail (90).