Table of Contents

  • Four years after the start of the so called Jasmine Revolution, the Tunisian nation has been transformed, driven by the will for change of a whole generation of young Tunisians that took the streets to build a brighter future. The early results of this social and political metamorphosis, despite the costs, the pain and the risks that it implied, have been impressive.

  • Despite years of strong economic growth prior to the revolution, Tunisia experienced growing inequalities in opportunities to obtain good jobs, translating into rising unemployment among young people in particular a situation which further deteriorated in the wake of the global economic crisis and during the transition to democracy.

  • While the road travelled by Tunisia since the revolution has been bumpy and will in all likelihood continue to be so in years to come, much has been achieved since January 2011. Two rounds of democratic elections have been successfully held in October 2011and in October 2014. In 2014, Tunisia achieved another landmark by passing a new constitution, which has set the course for the countrys future. The enactment of the 2011 Law on Associations has fuelled a mushrooming of non-governmental organisations and think tanks, while the Law on Access to Information represents a significant step in the direction of increased transparency.

  • This chapter provides an overview of youth in the labour market in Tunisia and highlights some of the key challenges facing policy makers in the country. The labour market has had significant difficulty absorbing large and increasingly educated cohorts of young people, resulting in particularly low employment rates which are the combination of both high unemployment and low participation rates. School-to-work transitions are challenging and one in four young people are neither in employment, nor in education or training (NEET). Women and young people from the more deprived Centre West and Southern regions are particularly at risk. Even when Tunisian youth are in employment, it is frequently in poor quality jobs: informal employment is common, affecting an estimated one in two young workers, and the share of temporary contracts is high. Furthermore, working hours are long and the incidence of low-pay amongst youth is common.

  • This chapter discusses demand-side barriers to youth employment in Tunisia such as the cost of hiring (as determined by minimum wages, non-wage costs and collective bargaining institutions) and employment protection legislation. It also discusses policies currently in place to tackle such barriers (including wage subsidies) and offers a range of policy options to create more favourable conditions for employers to hire youth, while still ensuring decent wages as well as an adequate level of protection for workers. Key challenges identified in this chapter include: high wage floors introduced by sector wage agreements; a large gap in the level of remuneration and benefits between the public and private sectors, which causes public sector queuing and raises reservation wages; and very rigid employment protection legislation on permanent contracts combined with extremely flexible legislation on temporary contracts, resulting in a dual labour market, with temporary work acting as a trap rather than a stepping stone into more stable employment for Tunisian youth.

  • This chapter analyses the extent to which labour market and social policies support the employability of youth in Tunisia. In particular, the chapter discusses: social protection mechanisms to mitigate the negative consequences of being out of work; public employment services to help young people (back) into work; entrepreneurship training and support programmes to assist youth in setting up their own businesses; as well as social policies to help youth (and young women in particular) overcome barriers to employment related to family responsibilities. The chapter finds that, despite Tunisias relatively developed social protection system, many youth are likely to fall between the cracks because of high levels of unemployment and informality. This lack of protection presents a significant barrier to the ability of youth to look for and find productive employment. In addition, public employment services generally lack the capacity to provide unemployed youth with the tailored support they require. Finally, Tunisia could do significantly more to help young parents juggle work and caring responsibilities, particularly with regards to parental leave and support for parents in meeting the costs of childcare.

  • This chapter examines the vocational education and training system in Tunisia, assessing strengths and challenges. Currently the system fails to provide youth with a sufficiently smooth transition into the labour market, and inadequately meets the needs of employers. The two main challenges are: i) the lack of attractiveness of vocational education and training in Tunisia, including the negative effects of the low status collges techniques, and the underdevelopment of high quality options at the upper secondary level; and ii) the mix of provision (as between fields of study) is driven mainly by the capacity of the system, and it may not reflect the needs of the economy. This chapter recommends the implementation of a set of mutually reinforcing policy reforms, including a strategic expansion of VET at the upper secondary level and stronger mechanisms to engage employers. Finally, the chapter also looks at the provision of entrepreneurship training within the VET system, and identifies scope for improving both quality and accessibility of provision.

  • This chapter examines the opportunities for the creation of jobs for young people in the green economy and actions which can build skills and entrepreneurship around these opportunities. The economy will inevitably become greener, either through the influence of external factors, i.e. climate change, pressure on non-renewable resources and the related adaptation policies, or through a domestic strategy in the direction of sustainable development. This will have implications for vocational education and training (VET), both in terms of the skills which will be in demand, and the opportunities for entrepreneurship. Greening of the economy will not have the same effect on all sectors, and a number of areas are examined where there will be opportunities for the creation of new jobs, including for youth through the creation of green jobs. Capturing such opportunities will require clear government strategies, prioritisation and action.