Thousands of freelancers in Tunisia are seeking solutions for their employment situation in a country whose laws do not yet recognize this type of work, which dominates global markets and provides income for hundreds of thousands of university graduates.
Official figures in Tunisia completely lack information about the size of the freelance labor market or the types of jobs it offers. However, associations and initiatives for workers in this sector confirm that freelancers in Tunisia work in modern technology and media fields. Unfortunately, their work is undervalued due to the absence of protective laws for their rights.
Freelancers in the independent sector face obstacles due to outdated labor laws that hinder the regularization of their employment status concerning taxation and social security. They also face difficulties receiving international transfers for the work they do abroad, which provide them with job opportunities and income sources that protect them from unemployment.
Ahmed Al-Harmasi, the president of the Aphrodite Association, a network for independent workers in creative fields, estimates that there are around 120,000 freelancers in Tunisia, the majority of whom are young people and university graduates who have chosen advanced paths to combat unemployment, away from limited opportunities in the traditional job market.
According to the latest official data from the Tunisian Government’s Statistical Institute for the first quarter of this year, the unemployment rate in Tunisia is estimated at 16.1%. The youth, aged between 15 and 24, represent the highest percentage of job seekers, with an unemployment rate of 40.2% during the first three months of this year, compared to 38.8% during the same period last year.
Abdul Rahman Lalhaga, an economic researcher at the Tunisian General Labor Union and a university professor, states that official data on the freelance labor market is completely absent in Tunisia and has not yet become a topic of study for statistical institutions.
Lalhaga emphasizes that it is very difficult to determine the size of this market in Tunisia and its role in reducing unemployment in the absence of official figures regarding the types of jobs, the number of people employed, or the income generated from this type of work.
On the other hand, he highlights the importance of organizing and developing these initiatives and aligning labor laws with the rapid transformations in the market’s dynamics. Lalhaga points out that since 2019, the International Labour Organization has been addressing the new challenges of an open labor market and its role in creating job opportunities and reducing unemployment.
He emphasizes the role of the legal system in stimulating new labor markets and contributing to providing financial revenues for individuals and the state.
According to a report by the International Labour Organization, the new labor market offers endless opportunities to improve the quality of life, expand choices, bridge the gender gap, and address the destructive effects of inequality.
The International Labour Organization urges the need to be well-prepared to seize these new opportunities, considering that today’s skills will not align with the jobs of tomorrow