As Tunisians celebrate the national Labor Day, they are at the same time grieving their double-digit Unemployment rates. Full with anger, frustration and injustice they went out to protest, it is time to look at the reasons that brought these mostly young people on to the streets.
Tunisia: People are demanding “Justice and Dignity"
The extremely high youth Unemployment rate of 15.5 percent in 2019, is a major reason but is definitely not the only reason.
On Monday, 29th April 2019, about 5,000 Tunisians protested in central Sidi Bouzid city against marginalization and deteriorating conditions after the deaths of 12 female rural workers in a traffic accident.
The tragic deaths of 12 women traveling to work in an inappropriate vehicle in the village of Sabbela on Saturday provoked a wave of anger among Tunisians.
Similar incidents have occurred in recent months, fuelling Tunisians anger at the high cost of living, unemployment and the decline of state services since the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
It is hard to get by when you don't have a job, the cost of living keeps rising and even if you get a job, working conditions are often very poor: low wages, little social protection, lack of secure contracts and career prospects, and weak or lacking trade unions to give them a voice.
Better educated= less unemployment?
The feeling of frustration among youth is exacerbated by the fact that the parents have invested a lot of money in the education of their children hoping to ensure a better future for them.
Higher and lower education and income levels are equally affected by unemployment. In fact, statistically talking the more education you get the higher your risk to be affected by unemployment.
Although Tunisian Youth has received a better education than other countries in the Mena region, more progress in fighting discrimination against women in the labor market, the lack of training of young people make them face joblessness the same as those with no education. The question remains, why?
– a mismatch on the skills that they have acquired and the skills demanded by today’s employers.
Simply, too many young people aren’t gaining the required skills and competencies that will enable them to succeed in today’s workplace. And, when young people are sidelined, a whole economy suffers. That is why young people need to focus more on the needs of employers and enterprises.
New demand in the job market:
Across, developing, emerging and more advanced markets alike, the emergence of digital, green, knowledge, and service economies alongside globalized value chains is altering the labor market needs and the future of work. There are a variety of 21st-century skills that are needed in the workplace ranging from leadership to entrepreneurial aptitude. Specific skills are also important in certain circumstances. For example:
- Behavioral skills: are valuable given increased importance on service delivery that requires regular interaction with customers;
- Flexibility and adaptability: have become important as young people are more likely to move between informal and formal sectors, and as a result of the growing trend toward short-term or project-specific employment;
- Computer literacy: is becoming vital in low- and middle-income countries as online support jobs are outsourced from higher income countries; and
- Technical vocational skills: remain key to success. In fact, in many emerging economies, the demand for higher-skilled labor has never been greater as a result of greater outsourcing and offshoring.
So far, most successful programs combine skills training with internships, on the job experience, and capital or other support for self-employment and entrepreneurship.
The Tunisian revolution was a positive happening for the country, its peaceful and rational changes in the region and the whole world provided hope for its citizens and a better image to the international community. However, the futile struggle between the government and the unions has become a financial and moral burden.
At the economic level, one strike day incurs enough losses to cover the demanded increase in wages.
At the public relations level, the strike and failed negotiations represent a tremendous blow to the international image of the country because it gives the impression that Tunisia is incapable of ensuring social harmony and therefore becomes less attractive to foreign investors.
Such a cost is very high, especially when there are competing countries more than ready to take advantage of the erosion of Tunisia’s soft power. Trade unions and employer organization play a crucial role in social peace because they make sure that the voice of employers and workers is heard.
The overall aim is to promote employment and rights through robust social dialogue structures and institutions that result in creating a climate fostering economic development.
Together, governments, employers and workers, they reduce youth unemployment, reinforce democratic governance through freedom of association and collective bargaining, and enhance social justice and social protection.
Self – Employability, a solution to fight unemployment
With over 835 thousand people either unemployed or under-employed and many not having any real prospects of landing a job, a self-owned business may no longer be an option but a necessity!
While necessity is the mother of invention, extended unemployment may prove to be the mother of entrepreneurship.
If you elect this path you will become the boss, the secretary, the bookkeeper, the salesperson, the reason it works, and if it fails, the reason it fails. Those that don’t want to wait for jobs will start their own businesses and learn everything about selling, as a necessity and a solution, not just as a dream.