With its partners, UNICEF works upon providing all adolescents and all young people in Serbia, including the most vulnerable and marginalized, with opportunities to develop and apply their skills to successfully transition to work
In the globalized world, soft skills are becoming more and more important for successful employment of young people, including skills such as ability to learn and adapt, listen and communicate effectively, think creatively, solve problems, work in teams, lead and follow supervision effectively. These skills are important both for the employers to manage work processes effectively, and for the young people themselves to secure a job, retain employment and move flexibly in the labour market as well as engage in lifelong learning.
With the youth unemployment rate in Serbia almost two times higher than in the EU, UNICEF focuses on the development of 21st century skills in young people. Our goal is to increase their employability by enhancing their knowledge and skills, especially for those not in education, employment or training (NEET).
Programme Area Goals
Programme area goals
With its partners, UNICEF works upon providing all adolescents and all young people in Serbia, including the most vulnerable and marginalized, with opportunities to develop and apply their skills to successfully transition to work. Our goals are to:
- Provide young people with learning opportunities, personal empowerment, active citizenship values, employability skills through establishing skills development programmes.
- Support the development of national policies and systems for adolescents and youth who are not in education, employment, nor training (NEET).
- Boost young people’s self-employment and entrepreneurial projects using technological, eco-friendly and innovative approaches to improve their communities.
- Improve the youth employment rate by implementing internship programmes and connecting them with private sector enterprises and institutions to host young people as future workforce.
- Support youth looking for jobs by mobilizing 2,000 young people to become certified interns and participate in online and offline skills trainings, as well as by implementing and monitoring a matchmaking platform to connect 500 internship providers with young people.
UNICEF advocates for the prioritization of young people’s needs in policy and budgeting processes and for investment in capacities for young people-sensitive programmes. In partnership with the Government of Serbia, we aim to initiate changes in the legal framework necessary to ensure youth engagement in areas such as internships, skill development, civil participation and volunteering, strategizing and planning.
We aim to ensure that all young boys and girls and young people in Serbia, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized, benefit from quality non-formal education and skills development opportunities, and are able to apply their skills and competencies to participate, contribute and realize their rights.
Our goal is that by 2025:
5,000 adolescents and youth have participated in skills development programmes for learning, personal empowerment, active citizenship and/or employability through UNICEF supported programmes.
Serbia has one of the highest youth emigration levels in the Balkans and is ranked 137th out of 138 countries in the 2016 Global Competitiveness Index for its capacity to retain talent. This has a significant negative influence on the Serbian economy, as the estimated annual cost of the departure of young and educated people from Serbia abroad is up to €1.2 billion, equivalent to the value of the exports of Serbia’s IT sector. According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia Labour Force Survey for 2020, 32.5 per cent of young people aged 15–24 are unemployed, which is almost twice as high as in the EU. There is also a significant disparity between urban and rural areas: young people in rural areas have an almost 15 per cent higher unemployment rate. Regional disparities are also present; Vojvodina has the highest employment rate for young people (39.7 per cent), while the lowest rate is in South and East Serbia (28.2 per cent). Young people from vulnerable groups are more at risk, as they are exposed to fewer non-compulsory education programmes and therefore have fewer skills and are less competitive on the market. Thus, it is important to provide all young people, despite their place of residence, with equal working and training opportunities.
The emigration of young people is also strongly linked with lack of opportunities, and the mismatch of the skills that young people learn at schools and universities and the skills demanded by employers and the modern market.
Combating youth unemployment and skills mismatch requires provision of access to learning and skills developing opportunities, practice-based job training and employment support. Provided with a mix of soft skills and key competences aligned with the needs of the private sector, young people will become more employable and equipped for working in the 21st century labour market.
UNICEF in partnership with the Government, civil society organizations, private sector entities and other stakeholders aims to address the issue of the skills mismatch. There is a need to equip young people with practical skills that are necessary in the 21st century, such as IT skills and soft skills including communication, teamwork, flexibility and adaptability. Besides, there is a need to address the problem of the lack of experience of young people, as most employers require it.
To help young people gain skills and knowledge that are important in today’s world, UNICEF and partners aim to develop an overarching partnership and programme for promoting youth employability in Serbia. This programme will contribute to better preparing youth in Serbia for the future labour market, support scaling up of solutions related to skills for learning, employability and decent work.