Tunisians looking to Libya for employment
Jobless Tunisians are turning to neighbouring Libya. About 70% of Tunisian workers who left Libya after the revolution want to go back, according to a recent study from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). And many of those who made the move were able to reclaim their previous jobs. "Libya has great potential as a country for absorbing Tunisian skilled and unskilled labour," AfDB Regional Director Jacob Kolster said about the report published on March 30th.
The AfDB's principal economist for Tunisia, Emanuele Santi, confirmed that Libya provided a viable solution for job-hunters across the border. "The Libyan labour market offers a job-creating potential in both quantitative and qualitative terms, and this market remains largely open for Tunisian workers," Santi said. "This labour migration represents a strategic axis for Tunisia in the fight against unemployment," the AdDB economist added. Most returnees from Libya are married men with low levels of education and professional qualifications, according to the report.
The study recommended establishing a Tunisian inter-ministerial committee dedicated to the Libyan labour market to optimise existing agreements and establish a procedural framework to improve labour convergence between Tunisia and Libya.
The recommendations also focused on the need to guide and follow up on Tunisian workers who are willing to migrate to Libya, implement efficient measures to prevent irregular migration and facilitate the return of Tunisian migrants in a sustainable development perspective. Last year, Tunisia and Libya agreed to facilitate the movement of Tunisians who seek jobs in the public and private sectors in Libya.
Tunisia is betting on the Libyan labour market to cut its own unemployment rate. Former Immigration Secretary Houcine Jaziri is among those urging young Tunisians to go to Libya rather than head as a harraga to Italy. Libya has abundant opportunities for job-seeking youths, whereas Italy is facing an economic crisis, Jaziri said four months ago at a conference on Tunisia's national migration policy.
For many Tunisians, travel to Libya is the only way to eke out a living. "For a while, I've been suffering for the lack of job opportunities. Opportunities are very limited here," Adel Boumaizza told Magharebia. "I think that the situation will be much better in Libya where jobs are available, especially in reconstruction and contracting projects.
In addition, wages are much higher and cost of living is lower," the young man said. He insists on returning to Libya and working there again. Naceur Boukadida is in a similar situation. He admits that Libya faces dire security straits but still prefers to seek employment in the neighbouring country. "I will risk my own life to make a living. I graduated four years ago, and therefore, I don't expect to face any difficulties in finding a job at a Libyan company," Boukadida said.
For his part, job-hunter Abderrazek Hidoussi is waiting for security to stabilise in Libya before he makes the move. "Calm there means the start of reconstruction, which will create more job opportunities for all," he said. "Therefore, we are looking with much optimism to our future in that country."
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