More than 2000 unemployed Serbian youth get training and jobs
After Aleksandar Jovanovic’s parents lost their jobs, his family was without any income for months. Today, they are helping their son run his new car wash business, which now provides the family with a steady income.
"I’m proud of my business," said Aleksandar, a 20-year-old from Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city. "I called it 'The Green Oasis.' It’s my first job and my friends are impressed.”
Aleksandar is one of more than 2,000 young Serbs who are getting job opportunities through an initiative launched by the government and the United Nations in Serbia to address youth unemployment – which currently stands at a staggering 46 percent, according to national statistics.
The Youth Employment Fund, supported by the MDG-F, is working to increase employment and improve the employability of disadvantaged young people through grants, training and work placements in companies.
The initiative targets young people from Roma communities, rural towns and villages, migrants, internally displaced persons and returnees, those with minimal education between the ages of 15 and 30, and young people with disabilities.
So far, 167 young people have opened their own businesses, and more than 650 have found new jobs, after training sponsored by the YEF.
Dragana, a 23-year-old mother, got a job at a local coffee roasting and retail company in Backa Palanka after completing YEF-sponsored training. "I’m proud that I managed to secure full-time employment," said Dragana. "I really enjoy my work and the daily interaction with my colleagues."
"The greatest success of this project is witnessing individual cases of satisfied young people who, having been registered with the unemployment office for, say, 14 years, are finally working or gaining new knowledge and skill," said Natasa Ivanovic, employment advisor with the YEF.
Jelena Stanković, Head of the Group for Additional Education and Training from the National Employment Service, said that the programme has gained a lot of interest from young people, employers, and trainers. "The programme is a success, and more such projects should be encouraged," said Ms. Stanković.
The Youth Employment Fund is part of the Youth Employment and Migration programme, which supports national and local institutions to implement measures to increase youth employment in Serbia, while also reducing the negative impact of return and irregular migration.
The programme is implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with five ministries, the Centres for Social Work, the National Employment Service and the Republic Statistical Office. Programme activities are implemented in over 50 municipalities in South Backa, Belgrade, Pcinjski, Nisavski and Pomoravski regions.