UNICEF Gathers Chamber of Commerce Leaders in Serbia to Jointly Enhance Employment Opportunities for Youth
Belgrade, 1 April 2022 – UNICEF Serbia organised a meeting today with leaders of 12 chambers of commerce and business associations in Serbia to present the “Promoting Youth Employability through Internships“ programme, launched with a view to supporting young people and enhancing their prospects of finding suitable employment. Upon entering the labour market, youth in Serbia are faced with numerous challenges, the toughest of which is finding a job. This is largely due to lack of work experience compared to unemployed adults, which is precisely the reason behind their inability to cope with modern labour market challenges.
“Too many young people, especially the most vulnerable, are becoming detached from education and the labour market, which can damage their long-term prospects, as well as ultimately undermine the social and economic development of the country. UNICEF’s focus is on the most vulnerable, as they are the hidden potential for increasing the labour force. This could be done only through attaining skills and knowledge and having access to quality internships so that they are ready for the job market. Therefore UNICEF, together with partners, is working to find the most effective ways of connecting young people to an expanding economy. Our aim is for young people to gain the skills and experience they need, and thus simultaneously prevent labour force shortages in the future,” said Deyana Kostadinova, UNICEF Representative in Serbia.
According to the most recent Labour Force Survey data, from 2021, Serbia’s youth unemployment rate (aged 15–24) stood at 28.7%. Young people in Serbia face weaker labour market prospects compared to their peers in the EU, where the youth unemployment rate was 16.2% in 2021. Inadequate economic and employment opportunities are a significant driver of youth emigration from Serbia, representing a direct cost to the country of about 1.2 billion euros per year.
The “Promoting Youth Employability through Internships“ programme entails offering internships to young people up to 30 years of age who are not in employment, education or training and have primary, secondary or higher education attainment, thus fostering social and economic inclusion of youth, in particular those from vulnerable groups, who start from a position of disadvantage. This programme offers them an opportunity to pursue training and develop skills and knowledge in demand in the labour market.
“We are pleased that the American Chamber of Commerce is able to support a programme of this kind, as youth employability is a vital topic worldwide. Youth in Serbia face an additional dilemma – where to start their professional lives, and we believe initiatives such as this will improve their prospects of finding jobs with less uncertainty and more confidence,” said Vera Nikolić Dimić, Executive Director of AmCham Serbia.
The key problem in youth employment is the fact that employers demand work experience and practical skills. Youth cannot gain work experience on their own, while the education system, on the whole, does not foresee work-based practice. On the other hand, employers need ready and motivated employees capable of adapting to job requirements quickly. Companies in Serbia highlight the shortage of competent labour force, and their dissatisfaction is mainly due to the lack of necessary practical competencies among secondary-school leavers.
Employers that join the programme will be able to select trained young interns in line with their companies’ staffing needs in terms of qualification profiles and offer the selected interns two-month internships.
“Serbia-Italy trade volume exceeded 4 billion dollars in 2021 and I believe representatives of Italian businesses will recognise the opportunities offered by this innovative programme both for themselves and for young people at the start of their professional careers. It is crucial to create opportunities for youth together and facilitate their smoother transition and more accessible opportunities in the labour market. We believe that an alliance between the business and civil sectors will yield results, because it is only by joining forces that we can create sustainable solutions for all labour market stakeholders,“ said Mirjana Kojić, Secretary-General of Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
Today's meeting was attended by leaders of 12 chambers of commerce and active business associations from the United States of America, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Slovenia, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Nordic Business Alliance, Association of Business Women of Serbia and representatives of Serbian Chamber of Commerce with which UNICEF has a Memorandum of Understanding on strategic cooperation. Meeting participants endorsed the joint efforts centred on creating opportunities for vulnerable youth.
The Promoting Youth Employability through Internships programme was launched on 1 November 2021 and lasts until the end of 2022. It envisages establishing liaisons between at least 2000 young people and 500 employers. Interested young people and employers may apply to take part in the programme via the applications platform Biram uspeh (I Choose Success) – Promoting Youth Employability programme at www.biramuspeh.com.
The programme is implemented by UNICEF Serbia in cooperation with the National Employment Service, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and other partners.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/serbia