Are young people in Croatia prepared for labor market?

The Advisory Board for Children’s Rights and Social Responsibility, with the support of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, organized the conference "What do young people need to be more competitive in the labor market?"

24 November 2022
Sudionici konferencije
Siniša Sunara/UNICEF

Zagreb, November 22, 2022 - The UNICEF Office for Croatia and the Advisory Board for Children’s Rights and Social Responsibility held the conference "What young people need to be more competitive in the Labor Market". The conference offered the opportunity to present the results of a mapping of the responsible business practices of companies in Croatia, which provide support to young people when entering the labor market, and young people's stands on what they need in order to be more competitive.

The goal of the project was to gain insights into whether young people are ready to enter the labor market and to which extant, what are their expectations and attitudes towards the education system and future employers, and whether there are responsible business practices in Croatia that facilitate the transition of young people from education to the labor market. More than ninety final-year students of the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb, under the leadership of Prof. Ph.D. Mislav Ante Omazic, participated in the project. Among the practices in companies mapped by young people - programs of paid professional internships, internship programs that introduce young people to work in a structured way, mentorships, scholarships, education and training for young people aimed at acquiring relevant knowledge and skills, cooperation with educational institutions, the organization of events intended for the school and student population, professional support in the preparation of graduate theses and student projects, providing support to young people from vulnerable groups when entering the labor market - stand out the most. A summary of the results of the mapping of responsible business practices, in which 16 companies participated, is available at the link.

"It is extremely important to enable young people to acquire the skills necessary for the labor market, which is constantly and rapidly changing. Heartfelt thanks to the companies that opened their doors to young people and participated in the project. We want to empower our young people and prove to them that their successes and involvement in society are important not only for their future, but also for ours. Through its programs, UNICEF works with young people to support them in acquiring 21st century skills -- communication, entrepreneurship, leadership and partnership building -- that enable them not only to have an impact in the communities in which they live, but also facilitate that important transition from skills acquisition to employability in the future. Certainly, I would use this opportunity to invite even more companies to join UNICEF's efforts to ensure that young people can realize their full potential by investing in their skills today, so that they can lead us with confidence in the future," emphasized Regina M. Castillo, Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia.

Regina M. Castillo, predstojnica Ureda UNICEF-a za Hrvatsku i Patrick Rudat, predsjednik Uprave Kauflanda u Hrvatskoj
Siniša Sunara/UNICEF

In addition to the mapping of business practices, the UNICEF office for Croatia conducted a survey on a small and convenient sample of young people* between the ages of 16 and 25, which showed that young people are generally satisfied with the extent to which education prepares them for the labor market, but they also believe that it is not enough. When looking at employers, young people have clear and high expectations: they want more opportunities to build their own employability through the provision of professional internships, mentoring or internships, and better listening to needs and realistic expectations when it comes to first employment, which as a rule implies a lack of work experience. Young people believe that developed communication skills can help them to be more competitive in the labor market, and they also expect high-quality communication from employers, which implies respect, openness and accessibility.

Jelena Penjin, student and co-initiator of the MladiRade project, and Aleksej Leon Gajica, UNICEF's Young Ambassador for the rights of children and youth, as well as students of the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb, Martina Muštra Borić and Ena Beč, offered the perspective of young people at the conference, confirming that the expectations of young people are aimed towards employers but also towards other key stakeholders in the context of employability: educational institutions, responsible ministries and young people themselves, as active interlocutors and collaborators in the process of preparation for the labor market.

"Young people today have a number of opportunities for personal growth and development, but they are often not aware of what they can do with their degree in this digital world with a handful of new professions. In addition to personal motivation, which is the most important, there are a number of available programs for acquiring skills for future jobs, and it is up to young people to use them," said Jelena Penjin, student and co-initiator of the MladiRade project.

"I believe that financial literacy and communication skills should be added to the high school curricula. These are the most important skills today, and a large number of young people do not acquire them during secondary school education", pointed out Aleksej Leon Gajica, UNICEF's young ambassador for the rights of children and young people.

Sudionici konferencije
Mislav Mesek/UNICEF

Other conference participants were prof. Ph.D. Mislav Ante Omazić from the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb, Dragan Jelić, State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Vesna Hrvoj-Šic, Head of Vocational Education Service of the Ministry of Science and Education, Željko Antolić, Human Resources Director of Ericsson Nikola Tesla , Kornelija Knez, Director of Recruitment and Human Resources Management, PBZ, Vali Marszalek, Director of the ESG Department of Mazars Croatia and mentor on the project, Igor Žonja, Director of the Moj posao portal, and Andrijana Mušura Gabor, psychologist and behavioral scientist, associate of the UNICEF office in Croatia project.

"The future is absolutely unpredictable and recognizing trends has never been more important. Our goal is to prepare young people for the jobs of the future, and it is in the role of employers that companies are crucial. I hope that with this project and today's conference, we have encouraged young people and companies to be initiators of change for their own and our better future," said prof. Ph.D. Mislav Ante Omazić, the leader of the project.



About the Advisory Board for Children's Right and Corporate Social Responsibility

The Advisory Board on Children's Rights and CSR has been operating since 2018 as a platform for the exchange of knowledge and good practices aimed at increasing the visibility of children's rights and, consequently, better respect, protection and realization of children's rights in the business community. Members of the Advisory Board are relevant national stakeholders for corporate social responsibility and children's rights: organizations that actively advocate for CSR in Croatia (Croatian Employers' Association, Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development, Croatian Chamber of Commerce), academia (University of Zagreb - Faculty of Economics in Zagreb), business sector (Zagreb Stock Exchange d.d., IKEA Croatia d.o.o, Ericsson Nikola Tesla d.d., Croatian Banking Association, Communication office Colić, Laco and partners, Telemach Hrvatska d.o.o. (legal successor Tele2), A1 Croatia d.o.o., Croatian Association of Marketing Communication Societies, The Institute Employed Mum), members of the Network of Young Advisers to the Ombudsperson for Children and the UNICEF Office for Croatia.

*Through its ZABUM voice platform, UNICEF conducted a survey among young people (16 - 25 years old), in which 234 young people participated. The survey was conducted on a convenient and non-representative sample and the results do not apply to all young people in Croatia.

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