From Education to Employment (E2E): Youth Skills Development and Public Private Partnership

One of the most challenging problems and a key concern of the Government of Serbia is high youth unemployment (51%). With the EU Accession negotiations, a new strategic dialogue on employment and social issues has been launched. The Government of Serbia has invited Switzerland to support the dual VET reform in Serbia. The E2E program aims to assist the development of a system of tailor made youth employment policies and measures to stimulate employment prospects through public private partnerships.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Economy and Employment
Vocational training and skills development
Labor market development
01.04.2015 - 31.12.2019
CHF 8'010'000

Around 75% of young adults in Serbia have finished formal education with a secondary school education or a lower level. The Vocational Education and Training (VET) system has been slow to respond to the changing needs and employers complain that young people are poorly equipped with the competencies for the modern workplace. The Government of Serbia has invited Switzerland to support the dual VET reform in Serbia.

The E2E Program supports the Serbian Government in key reforms in the employment sector. It consists of two components. Component 1 aims at contributing to the formulation of framework policies in this field, in particular the Economic and Social Reform Program and the unified National Qualification Framework (NQF). Component 2 envisages enhancing youth employability (that includes matching between training and demand) by developing Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the VET system in five mid-size towns in Serbia (Novi Pazar, Knjaževac, Pirot, Kruševac and Kragujevac). This bottom-up intervention approach leads to developing evidence-based employment and education policies and ultimately to more jobs for young people. These towns all face close to 60% youth unemployment but show good potential that is characterized by interested local governments, private sector dynamics and youth groups.


Increased youth employment in Serbia in a socially inclusive and sustainable way.

Goal of Component 1 (policy level):

The Policy making process for youth employability and employment is more effective and evidence-based, and local decision-making and capacities at the institutional level to support the process are enhanced.

Goal of Component 2 (implementation level):

The unemployed youth profit from market oriented non-formal adult education and trainings (NFAET), including dual system elements, through local public-private partnerships in five South and South-Eastern Serbian municipalities.

Target groups

Policy Component 1 targets:

  • National institutions, including key ministries (Labour & Employment, Education, Youth, Economy and Regional Development)
  • Local governments and their relevant institutions.

Implementation Component 2 targets:

  • The improvement of the labour market situation of the approximately 22’000 young people that belong neither to the employment nor education and training (NEET) group; it also targets more specifically the 17’000 young people that are registered as unemployed in five municipalities: Novi Pazar, Knjaževac, Pirot, Kruševac and Kragujevac (that is 43% of all 90’000 youth aged 15-29 in the five regions)
  • The program will be targeting companies, that are ready to invest own funding in order to recruit qualified workforce.
Medium-term outcomes
  • Relevant line ministries develop improved national youth employability and employment policy framework
  • Young unemployed people use the innovative models and solutions for youth employability and employment (policy implementation at national level)
  • Young unemployed people use labor market oriented and non-formal education and training programs based on new stronger roles of local brokers in five regions in Serbia.
  • Private sector together with the local brokers and VET service providers strengthen their roles in Public Private Partnerships on youth employment.

Results from previous phases:  

In the 5 months of the opening phase (January-June 2016), 10 innovative youth employment partnerships between civil society organizations, local government institutions and private companies were developed and supported; an assessment on legislation constraints related to apprenticeship and traineeship introduction has been done; a Knowledge, Skills and Abilities/Attitudes (SKA) analysis was made in five regions and local brokers were identified (civil society organizations, local youth offices, business incubators) and selected through field assessments together with the interested private sector representatives.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Swiss cooperation with Eastern Europe
Project partners Contract partner
Private sector
Foreign state institution
  • Central State of South East
  • Foreign private sector North
  • Foreign private sector South/East

Implementing partner
Multiple Local Partners

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   8'010'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   3'535'023
Project phases Phase 1 01.04.2015 - 31.12.2019   (Current phase)