Since the Jasmine Revolution of 2011, Tunisia’s youth unemployment crisis has worsened. As of 2020, it has the tenth highest youth unemployment rate in the world at 36.5%. Experts have long identified this as the main challenge to overcoming Tunisia’s economic woes, and reform – from the education and vocational training systems on the supply-side to the job market on the demand-side – must follow the democratic gains achieved since 2011. The failed approach in reducing regional inequality under Ben Ali had an adverse effect, creating unemployment disparities between Tunisia’s affluent coastal cities and its poorer interior regions. As such, a pivotal remedy could well be found through a cohesive national youth entrepreneurship network that improves upon existing initiatives, the majority of which focus on university graduates in urban areas. While graduate unemployment is a real concern rooted in the inefficient education-job market nexus, youth entrepreneurship is a tool that can empower young citizens with limited education to build their own enterprises, potentially fostering a startup ecosystem that would transform the economic predicament of inner Tunisia. A concerted effort from government agencies, foreign development projects, and the private sector is necessary to develop a common national framework for entrepreneurial growth as well as the means to boost self-employment in the country’s most vulnerable communities. This will be equally important to reviving key industries like agriculture and mining, stimulating private sector enterprises and ultimately creating employment opportunities in economically detached regions.
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