Project helps to develop education for youth entrepreneurs

Libya is streamlining entrepreneurship education within institutions of higher learning through developing an accredited entrepreneurship module, establishing entrepreneurship and innovation centres, and advancing ‘junior enterprise’ structures to bridge the gap between graduates and the labour market.

This was part of the outcomes of the EU4PSL project that was announced in December 2022 in Libya.

Funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France, the three-year EU4PSL project (2019-2022) has focused on supporting the development of Libya’s private sector and consolidating the principles of entrepreneurship in the Libyan educational system.

Under the EU4PSL project, an accredited entrepreneurship module that is now being taught at nine Libyan universities was developed with the help of Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University in France. The delivery of the module followed the training of 44 Libyan professors with the support of the South Mediterranean University in Tunisia.

Entrepreneurship and innovation centres were also created in 11 Libyan universities and the centres’ staff were coached on how to run practical incubation programmes to support undergraduate students.

The training also aimed at developing and supporting centres to provide better services to students, build their staff capacities, develop strategic plans that would support entrepreneurship at the university, create a link with the business community in Libya, and establish career and alumni centres within the universities.

Junior enterprises were also formed at eight Libyan universities including the Junior Enterprise University of Tripoli and Benghazi University Junior Enterprise to promote entrepreneurial skills and prepare entrepreneurs.These enterprises bridge the gap between the academy and the labour market by implementing projects with a financial return and/or societal benefit.

These junior enterprises are organisations established and managed by university students like real companies. They establish partnerships with companies operating in the market and provide their services to them, which enhances their entrepreneurial skills and helps them obtain practical experience and form a network that equips them for the job market.

Junior enterprises’ matchmaking events were organised with a group of leading private sector companies to explore collaboration, partnership and job opportunities for students.

Junior enterprises at Libyan universities were recognised by Junior Enterprises Global – an organisation representing the junior enterprises concept and the largest entrepreneurial student network worldwide which aims to complement the traditional university learning system by helping junior entrepreneurs to overcome challenges and gain experience.

In collaboration with the Mediterranean Universities Union, EU4PSL has also initiated work with Libya’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research on preparing a national roadmap for supporting entrepreneurship within higher education institutions and bridging the gap between graduates and the labour market.

After the completion of the EU4PSL (2019-2022) and its preceding project, Support to Libya for Economic Integration, Diversification and Sustainable Employment (SLEIDSE), the European Union will continue to support private sector and economic development in Libya through the E-NABLE project (2022-2025) that will focus on economic diversity, sustainability, and digital governance in Libya.

The three-year E-NABLE project will support Libya in its digital transformation by creating a national digital strategy, as well as digitalising public institutions’ services and tools for leveraging digital innovations for development.

Encouraging a ‘shift in focus’

Professor Ahmed Attia, the head of faculty affairs at the Faculty of Medical Technology at the University of Tripoli in Libya, welcomed the outcomes of the EU4PSL project.

“[The] EU4PSL project tackled some of the educational barriers and scientific challenges for enhancing … an entrepreneurial culture among university students,” Attia told University World News.

For example, the 2020 study ’Supporting Entrepreneurial Aspirations in Libya – A short Analysis of Libya’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem’ indicated that Libya suffers from limited and poor quality entrepreneurship-related courses and a general lack of research and development transfer to business along with weak tech start-up ecosystems.

“[The] EU4PSL project is a good step on the rocky and long road in the war-torn Libya to boost tailored entrepreneurship education and training programmes in higher education institutions, to provide the essential skills and knowledge that are required to manage a business with the hope to promote entrepreneurship as a career path, as well as transferring technological and scientific knowledge from universities and research institutes to emerging businesses,” Attia said.

“This will help university graduates in shifting their focus from limited public sector-oriented jobs to own technologically creative initiatives aimed at supporting themselves, while at the same time building a knowledge-based society and achieving sustainable development goals,” Attia indicated.