Prior to joining the Atlas Corps Fellowship, I was working on an economic development project that aimed to expand employment in Tunisia. I enjoyed every single day of this experience because it provided me with the chance to tackle an economic and social problem my country is facing “Unemployment”.
Away from long macro economic reports with technical words, data, and figures that only an economist can understand. I wanted to share in a very simple and non-exhaustive way four things I learned about unemployment roots and solutions. I will be speaking about Tunisia case, but the points mentioned below are most likely to be applicable to many other developing countries.
1- Improving the educational system– According to a study conducted by the Tunisian Arab Institute of Business Leaders, 60% of Tunisian job applicants are not meeting recruiter’s needs in terms of skills, especially when it comes to soft skills such as public speaking, leadership etc. That shows that the educational system is failing to provide students with the competencies needed to secure a job, leading to well-educated yet jobless people. Bridging the gap between educational institutions and recruiters, reforming the curriculum to meet the job market needs, introducing vocational retraining alternatives, and supporting job seekers throughout their transition to the labor market might help with improving and fastening job placements for graduates seeking entry-level job positions.
2- Empowering the private sector, especially Small and Medium Enterprises– Small and medium enterprises represent 90% of the Tunisian economy and are currently the main source of job creation. However, these firms are facing multiple challenges in areas related to access to foreign markets, supply chain management, corporate governance, access to capital etc. Fostering a good business environment through promoting export, supporting clusters, and the implementation of solid public-private partnerships are some ways to develop the private sector.
3- Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation- Entrepreneurs build businesses, and businesses create jobs. Entrepreneurship promotion is a long term strategy that encompasses reforms, education, and capacity building. “Setting a business in Tunisia takes around 18 months while in the US, it takes two days only”. Facilitating the Oh so complex and time-consuming procedures of starting a business, implementing a solid and long lasting support structure that provides technical and financial assistance to entrepreneurs from the incubation to the maturity phase of their projects, and anchoring an entrepreneurial mindset among young people through education and training could help strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
4- Reforms, Reforms, and Reforms- Reforming the educational sector to meet the labor market demand; reforming the investment laws and regulations to ensure a favorable business climate; reforming corporate taxes and customs to ensure transparency; reforming the banking sector to improve access to finance for start-ups and small and medium enterprises; fighting against corruption… All these aspects are fundamental toward creating a basis for a solid economy and ultimately better job opportunities.