Youth Unemployment in Tunisia

Workshop on Vocational Training and Entrepreneurship

“Tunisia is a wonderful country with many opportunities and rightly considered as a land of opportunity for the Westerwelle Foundation."
Amel Karboul, Minister for Tourism in Tunisia

Constitutional democracy and liberal economic order are ingredients of a stable state, where people determine their own faith and pursuit of happiness. Tunisia is making steady progress in this regard. This was consensus among high-level participants during the workshop at Westerwelle Foundation for International Understanding in Berlin.

Events that gave rise to the “Arab Spring” started in Tunisia in 2010. While Tunisia is continuing relatively steadily on the path to change, numerous countries in the Arab World are still facing violent clashes with promise of reforms far out of reach. During these times, it is particularly important that Tunisia remains an example of positive change in transitioning from a dictatorship to a genuine democracy in the region.

Country in turmoil

Hayet Talbi, Chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of the Tunisian Republic in Germany, touched this point in her introductory speech. She stressed the importance of economic recovery for the development of democracy in Tunisia. In this regard, Germany has been a vital partner for Tunisia from the onset. One of the main channels of cooperation between the two countries is focused on the fight against youth unemployment.

Is this money well-spent?

Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, Secretary General of the Westerwelle Foundation, explained the affirmative answer to this question in his opening remarks by stating that Tunisia is more open to the world than other countries in the region. Moreover, he said: 

"Tunisia is a land of opportunity and that is why it is an ideal partner."

However, Tunisia continues to face many challenges. Hildegard Vogelmann, GIZ expert on labor markets in Tunis, mapped out three main concerns: graduate unemployment, cultural value of work and mistrust in the private sector

Increase the market openness and capacity of employees

Participants shared their experiences and discussed Challenges and potential solutions. These include increasing market openness and at the same time provide incentives for young companies to stay in Tunisia for domestic benefit and value creation; qualification attainment of young Tunisians need to focus more on the demand of the private sector, than on the wishes to obtain - in some cases worthless - diploma; companies and entrepreneurs need to show incentive and demonstrate positive examples, in order to increase the reputation of the private sector and entrepreneurship. To achieve these goals, networks need to be created, which might become an Employers’ Union or a Union for Entrepreneurs in the future. Participants agreed that projects should focus on fast interventions and fast and effective implementation on a micro-level by the private sector.

Further opportunities and solutions were discussed in a less formal setting. In the end everyone agreed that Tunisia is a Land of Opportunity, not only for the Westerwelle Foundation.