Young Libyans train as pastry chefs as state jobs dry up

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - After several attempts at landing a job in Libya’s state oil industry, 22-year-old engineering graduate Belghasem Abdulsalam decided to make a living baking cakes.

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Most Libyans work in the public sector but the state has been hiring less as the country has been engulfed in conflict in the years since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Jobs in the private sector have also become scarce, as foreign companies have left due to the deteriorating security situation.

Forced to give up his dream of working in the oil industry, Abdulsalam took the “Benghazino chef course” at a private training centre in Benghazi to learn the confectionery trade.

He now works full time in a busy cafe in Benghazi and he gets paid every month, unlike many who work fore the cash-strapped public sector.

“The income is much better than from the government because you have your salary in your hand,” Abdulsalam said.

The training centre’s owner, accountancy graduate Sara Bashir al-Zawy, 35, said young people needed to take care of themselves.

“If I had been waiting for the country to provide me with a job, I would have been unemployed at home for eight years now,” she said.

Another alumnus of the confectionery course, 30-year-old Nabil Mohamed al-Mabrouk, started his own cake business to cater to cafes and supplement his father’s state pension of 450 dinars ($321) in order to feed a family of nine.

“My hands make money,” said Mabrouk, who has a certificate of business administration and bank financing. “Making three to four cakes can gain me half of a state salary.”

Writing by Ahmed Elumami; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Giles Elgood