‘Democracy didn’t turn Tunisian youths into jihadis, but it gave them the freedom to act on their unhappiness. By raising and then frustrating expectations, the revolution created conditions for radicalization to thrive… Educated Tunisians are twice as likely to be unemployed as uneducated ones, because the economy creates so few professional jobs. A third of recent college graduates can’t find work.’
Once it was the shining light of the Arab Spring: moderate, literate, tolerant. Now, as The New Yorker reports, Tunisia is the largest exporter of jihadis – the majority of them highly educated – driven to ISIS, not by fundamentalist faith, but by the endemic joblessness maintained by a corrupt nepotistic government. In a country where 50% of all young people – and 70% of all graduates – are unemployed, terror, for many, is the only viable career option.
Tunisia is a stark illustration of the drastic consequences of depriving young people of opportunity in a connected world of increasingly potent resentments. But this is not an isolated trend.
Around the world, in despots and democracies, failed and thriving states, elders are ransacking the futures of the young. As The Economist observes, governments at home and abroad – shaping policies across employment, housing and taxation – are systematically cheating the next generation, and squandering the world’s best bet for innovation, creativity and future success in the process. ‘Countries such as India that are counting on a demographic dividend from their large populations of young adults will find that it fails to materialise. Rich, ageing societies will find that, unless the youth of today can get a foot on the career ladder, tomorrow’s pensioners will struggle’.
For the first time in history, young people form a common, connected culture. They must be given the chance to share more than just their grievances.
- Read more about the Walled World of Work for today’s young – and how to foster the entrepreneurial mindset to help young people by-pass it.