The Tunisian education system follows a model adopted from the French, where technical and vocational skills are prioritized over thinking creatively and analytically.

Starting from primary school, students are expected to memorize a vast amount of material, measured only by their performance on standardized exams; a high number of graduates holds greater importance to the government than does say the quality of the education that they receive. The result is a generation of educated youth whose technical skills are not complemented by such “soft” skills as communication, time management and initiative taking.

Perhaps the gravest consequence of this system is the lack of innovation demonstrated by the younger generation, especially with respect to career aspirations. In an attempt to identify the public perception in Tunisia on the issue of education and unemployment, the Tunis Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers community conducted a survey through Facebook.

According to the survey, respondents – aged 20 to 40 – feel that the education youth receive in schools and universities in Tunisia does not train them for proper careers. The lack of choice in specialization results in a glut of engineers, accountants, lawyers and doctors, but a shortage of human resources in other needed professions.

Two respondents claim holding diplomas for jobs that do not exist yet in Tunisia, namely, degrees in nuclear medicine. Another has a degree in agribusiness from the Higher Institute of Biotechnology, which is not recognized by any government ministry even though it was awarded by a local public university.

Among solutions provided to address job creation through education reform, survey participants pointed out the need to update training of educators, strengthen recruitment processes, and most importantly, upgrade soft skills to ensure that graduates can access employment opportunities. The business world must be part of the educational process to ensure that what students are learning match the demands of the market.

Another approach to job creation through education reform is teaching entrepreneurship in schools, an initiative that has already begun in Tunisia. Higher education institutions are now required to integrate entrepreneurship modules into their curricula. This is a positive initial step towards instilling an entrepreneurial culture.

Education should offer to those who choose to start their own companies the business and management skills required for this purpose. However, entrepreneurship should not be considered a mere tool of creating new companies. Rather, it is an attitude that can be a valuable asset in the daily and professional life of every citizen.