Adolescents, Youth, and Innovation
Pursuing new and disruptive solutions to foster social community development and promote the agency of youth.
Young people lack the opportunities and skills required for decision-making, policy-formation and meaningful participation in the workforce.
People under the age of 25 constitute nearly half of Kosovo’s population of approximately 1.8 million, yet the youth and adolescent girls and boys are largely unprepared and unable to realize their rights due to a lack of opportunities for civic participation as well as poor capacity and skills for future employment.
As per the latest World Bank Human Capital Index a child in Kosovo can expect to complete 12.8 years of pre-primary, primary and secondary school by age 18. However, when years of schooling are adjusted for quality of learning, this is only equivalent to 7.7 years, which means there is a learning gap of 5.1 years. Youth unemployment remains a big concern in Kosovo, with one in four persons aged 15-24 employed, and female youth twice as likely to be unemployed.
Approximately 30.2 per cent of young people between 15 and 24 years are neither employed nor in education or training [KAS, Labor Force Survey 2018 (Quarter 3)]. The few employment opportunities that do exist are in tertiary, low value sectors. The issue of youth unemployment disproportionately impacts the most marginalized youth – those from rural areas, young persons living with disabilities, girls and women, displaced persons, and youth from non-majority communities.
According to the 2018 UNDP/USAID Public Pulse survey, 48% of young people are pessimistic about the future of Kosovo. When listing the main challenges that concern their future, 60% of respondents listed the lack of employment opportunities as the main challenge that affects their future. Education remains a major challenge, similarly to the fact that young people perceive the teaching methods and curriculum outdated and not aligned to the needs of employment and business sector.
At UNICEF, we understand adolescents and youth as social actors who can become change agents in their communities and societies. We consider creativity to be an untapped resource and a driving force for positive social change.
UNICEF Kosovo established the Innovations Lab as a non-formal response to the challenges and lack of opportunities among adolescents and youth. Having worked at the nexus of technology and innovation since its inception in 2010, UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo empowers adolescents and youth, advances the use of technology to drive social change, and explores avenues to transfer 21st century skills to young people.
The Lab utilizes non-traditional educative methods and human-centered design to impart professional, transferable skills to youth and adolescents, enabling them to transform their potential into becoming social change agents.
The Lab invests in young people, instilling life-skills to increase active citizenship and positive social development, and work-skills to increase both individual and national economic productivity. The Lab is a vehicle enabling young people to transform their potential into a successful professional life, while concretely addressing existing social challenges within their communities and generating new employment opportunities through innovative social entrepreneurship.
The Lab benefits adolescents and youth (aged 14-24 years), with an emphasis on marginalized, vulnerable, and socially-excluded groups (non-majority communities, rural communities, communities living in poverty and adolescents with disabilities). This contributes to increased opportunities among Kosovo’s most marginalized youth to participate meaningfully both in the workforce and in policy-formation and decision-making processes.
The Lab’s methods are non-formal, non-traditional educative methods, which use interaction and human-centered design techniques to instill professional, transferrable and entrepreneurial skills in youth along with knowledge of advocacy, critical media literacy, and technological skills of the 21st century. We engage youth to empower them to become active social change agents.
Our initiatives represent opportunities for the most marginalized adolescents and youth to develop and lead projects that address issues in their communities, all while allowing them to become key actors in a vibrant, peaceful, and prosperous Kosovo and agents of social change.