Even with a significant uptick in Tunisia's unemployment rate since the revolution, many sectors are complaining about a lack of manpower.
The employment ministry in December reported 653,000 jobless people. Parallel statistics confirm about 120,000 jobs remain unfilled, especially in the sectors of public works, agriculture, carpentry and services.
Yet despite rising wages and the influx of Tunisian workers returning from Libya, the country is seeing an unprecedented labour shortage, the Tunisian Centre for Monitoring and Business Intelligence (CTVIE) confirmed.
The CTVIE study released 5 months ago estimated a need for 55,000 workers in the textile sector, 13,000 in construction and public works, and 7,000 in mechanical and electronic industries.
Financing problems among some companies only exacerbate peoples' reluctance to enter the fields, said Taib Zekri, a member of the Executive Bureau of the National Federation of Building and Public Works (BTP) of the Tunisian Industry, Trade and Handicrafts Union (UTICA).
Employers also note the unwillingness of people to work in the construction and agriculture sectors.
According to farmer Habib Kilani, people feel the jobs he offers are too hard and the wages too low.
"I would have found it difficult this season to harvest olives if it were not for some housewives, despite hiking the pay up by about 25 dinars with working hours not exceeding eight per day," Kilani said.
Building contractor Ahmed Bouali suffers from the same problem. He said that young people today, even those who do not have advanced degrees, prefer administrative work over manual labour.
"Labour shortages are also due to many workers going to Libya, where construction workers can earn up to twice the wage in Tunisia," he told Magharebia.
Unemployed graduates refuse to engage in manual labour, he said, because they find such work unworthy.
"If handicrafts are a solution to unemployment, then what was the purpose of years of hard work and effort we have made in order to achieve success and obtain a certificate?" wondered Kamal Maissouri, who has an accounting degree but has been unemployed for two years.
"I think that these professions are for a specific category of people, but we university graduates have our place in the administration," he added.
Law graduate Sana Melliti is in the same situation. "I prefer to stay unemployed rather than to enrol in a job in a textile mill or in an olive orchard," she said.
"These jobs in Tunisia lack the minimum conditions for employment, such as social security and transportation," she said.