Challenges and possibilities for an inclusive approach to decent job creation in Tunisia

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Government and International Affairs

Abstract

This fellowship will be built upon my PhD project which examined ways in which domestic elites and unemployed youths understand and attempt to address the problems of job insecurities and unemployment in democratizing Tunisia. The project involved two case studies of unemployed movements and fifty interviews with unemployed youths, human rights activists and trade union members. It found that the mismatch between the authorities and unemployed youths' conceptions of the status and condition of unemployed contributed to the increasing frustration of unemployed youths with the post-uprising system. Also, this research as well as my consultancy activities for the International Labour Organisation (ILO)'s project on employment opportunities for youth and women in Tunisia indicated that, while the importance of addressing the problem of informal and precarious work and of developing an inclusive approach to job creation is being recognized, actual efforts are underdeveloped and unemployed youths are still largely marginalised from decision-making processes.

This fellowship will bring together global institutions, national authorities and unemployed workers into analysis in order to explore their understanding of informal and precarious work and examine challenges and possibilities to a more inclusive approach to decent job creation. This study is timely and imperative given that the limitations of the existing employment programmes are being recognized by the three parties and the rampant unemployment and job insecurities remain key sources of political and economic instability of the country. As well as utilising the interview and document data collected during my previous research, I will conduct a small number of interivews with individuals working in the field of job creation and training in both civil society and government (ministry) levels to assess possible gaps between employment strategies promoted by international or domestic elites on the one hand and unemployed workers' expectations and needs on the other.

In addition to generating academic impacts by sharing research findings through high-impact publication and presentations in conferences, the fellowship will seek to produce theoretical and empirical insights with which people in community and civil society organisations can actively engage in decent job creation. To do so, it will be designed to produce a co-productive form of research by working with local organisations and research centres working on the issue of socioeconomic rights and job creation in the process of the research. I will also share research findings with policy makers and individuals in charge of job creation and training and discuss how they can effectively collaborate with civil society organisations in developing National Employment Stratety. I have developed connections with several local organisations and potential interviewees through my PhD research and consultancy activities. The fellowship will deepen these relationships, allow me to gain new knowledge-exchange related experience and provide me with resources and tools to collaborate with people in community in practical ways.

Finally, the fellowship will provide me with an excellent opportunity to develop a successful academic career as a professional researcher in my field. I will develop my research skills further, gain new teaching experiences and benefit from personal and professional trainings at Durham University.
 
Description A Tübingen -Durham University Collaborative workshop "The State of the State in the Middle East" 18 Feb 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 18 scholars had a virtual workshop to to build a Durham-Tübingen research group to bring new life into academic analyses of the nature of the Arab state and to facilitate ECR networking across the institutions and to offer publication opportunities within a collective programme of research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Guest lecture, 7 March 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Master's course 'Graduate Seminar in Peacebuilding', Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick: Guest lecture on transitional justice and civil society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Seminar, Durham university, 11 March 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I presented my working paper 'A processual approach to precarious work' at IMEIS seminar on Zoom. In total 12 academics in UK and Tunisia attended the seminar.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Korean Association of Middle Eastern Studies-International Conference, 15-16 Oct 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I contributed to the annual conference titled 'Post Covid-19 era, enhancing the connectivity between Asia and the Middle East' by presenting my paper '10 years after the Arab revolt: the political economy of democratization in Tunisia'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021