One of the major challenges for sustainable development in Bosnia and Herzegovina is high unemployment, especially youth unemployment. Currently at 28% (300,000 people), the country has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the region. Youth unemployment is as high as 59%. Every year some 25,000 school-leavers enter the job market. At this late stage it becomes clear that they are not prepared for the demands of the labour market. This is because the education system is generally not geared towards practical experience, so the skills they do acquire are scarcely relevant to the job market. As a result, despite the high unemployment rate many vacancies cannot be filled.
Skills for Jobs: better job opportunities and less unemployment are the overarching goals
The project aims to expand the skills of vocational school students and improve the employment prospects of jobseekers. The project focuses on five cantons, Brčko District and two regions in the Republika Srpska. Skills for Jobs has the following two main goals:
- Support for existing formal and informal vocational training centres and orientation of education to the needs of the labour market: By the end of 2018 at least 3,000 unemployed young people and school-leavers will be given a permanent job after completing upper-secondary vocational school and further practical training. For this to be achieved, the curriculum of the training centres is driven by the needs of the labour market and is thus determined by demand from business. To implement this objective the project involves working closely with representatives of business sectors that provide the best prospects for the future in terms of employment and growth. Some of these include the light metals industry, the timber industry, the footwear sector, food processing, and hospitality and tourism. In addition, the practical side of training is being expanded in at least 20 state-run vocational training schools (VET schools).
- Development of labour-market oriented curriculums and work standards: The development of labour-market oriented curriculums and work standards is done in close collaboration with various stakeholders from the supply and demand sides. The stakeholders on the supply side include both VET schools and training centres in the private sector, while the demand side is represented by firms and potential employers. The project thus generates needs-oriented modern training programmes which are driven by the actual work skills in demand.
Results from the first phase of the project confirm success
To date, a total of eight training centres have been given support in six different industry sectors. The students in these centres are given practical problems to resolve, which equips them in the best way possible for the demands of the labour market. So far more than 500 people have completed the training, including 312 unemployed young people. 102 school-leavers have found permanent employment or at least a temporary job after completing the training programme.
A total of 38 curriculums and standardised tests have been developed and introduced. Many educators have taken courses in skills enhancement and the pool of experts now includes 80 specialists.
In order to ensure complete success, cooperating with all relevant stakeholders is key. The relevant actors include the public employment services, which are supported by the SDC.