The Republic of Kosovo – record high unemployment figures in the Balkans
With an unemployment rate of 45 percent, representing some 508,100 men and women of working age who are without jobs, the Republic of Kosovo has the highest unemployment rate in the Western Balkans. The situation is even more critical for the young generation: among Kosovars of both sexes between the ages of 15 and 25, nearly three out of four (73%) have no hope of finding work.
This is especially alarming given that children and young people under the age of 25 account for 49 percent of the country's total population, making it the country with the lowest average age in all of Europe. In the coming five years, approximately 200,000 young people will reach working age and begin to seek employment. Without jobs they are at risk of descending into poverty. Already today, 35 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and some 12 percent live in extreme poverty.
The underlying causes of the problem: a weak economy, inadequate vocational education and training, and insufficient job placement offers
The immediate causes for the difficult conditions on the job market for youths and young adults in Kosovo are:
- Demand: the demand for personnel on the part of potential employers in the private sector is very weak – a reflection of the generally difficult economic situation.
- Supply: the vocational education and training system is outdated and is poorly adapted to the needs of the job market. As a result, vocational trainees are unable to acquire the qualifications needed and in demand on the job market.
- Job placement: there is a lack of sufficient job placement services to coordinate the existing supply (job seekers) and demand (employers).
SDC involvement – the project in detail
With the "Enhancing Youth Employability" project, the SDC addresses all three issues, in order to achieve a long-term and sustainable improvement in the situation for young people between the ages of 15 and roughly 30.
- Stimulation of demand: investments in selected sectors of the economy are designed to create a corresponding number of jobs for young adults. The greatest potential exists in the agricultural and construction branches, in information and communication technology, and in the health care system.
- Improvement of supply: employment programmes geared to the needs of the job market provide young Kosovars of both sexes the capabilities and skills in demand. The programmes provide them with counselling all along the way – from choosing a career, through the vocational training period, to permanent employment at a living wage.
- Professionalized job placement services: For young jobseekers who have improved their employment chances by taking part in qualification programmes, access to available jobs in their fields is facilitated. Simultaneously, they are provided with counselling for their continued career planning.