Interview with Marija Radovanović
Marija Radovanović, Senior Project Manager for the Youth Employment Promotion (YEP) project of the German Development Cooperation, implemented in Serbia by GIZ has kindly answered following questions of Danube SKILLS partner, School for Shipping, Shipbuilding and Hydro-Construction – SBBH.
Tell us something about the Youth Employment Promotion (YEP) project?
Youth Employment Promotion is a project by the German Development Cooperation implemented by the German Organization for International Cooperation (GIZ) in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia. The challenges faced in Serbia include a large number of unemployed and inactive youth, as well as youth not in education, employment or training (NEET). There is a lack of harmonization between labour market supply and demand, as well as a need to improve the knowledge and skills of youth in accordance with the requirements of certain occupations. Likewise, we are facing a situation where existing active labour market policies do not meet the needs and expectations of youth.The goal of the project is providing support to young people aged 15 to 35 to improve their status in the labour market and to facilitate finding employment.The project focus is on establishing models for local youth employment initiatives in two pilot regions, in Vojvodina and Southern Serbia, and supporting local stakeholders, i.e. local youth offices, schools, the National Employment Service, civil society organizations and companies, in order to establish a dialogue, as well as long-term sustainable local partnerships for solving the numerous issues in the field of youth employment by implementing new or improved employment measures. The results and recommendations from these local dialogues are translated into reference models for facilitating youth employment and a dialogue at the national level.The project has achieved significant results since mid-2015. Nearly 6750 young people in Serbia have been involved in the trainings for acquiring career management skills, job-seeking and student entrepreneurship. Professional trainings have been attended by 270 unemployed youth, with 50 of them already employed in the textile industry, 72 in welding, 34 in the user service sector, and 44 in the automobile industry. The project supports organizations, hubs and centres providing a stimulating environment for acquiring entrepreneurial skills and starting one’s own business for nearly 50 young people. Two agricultural cooperatives were supported in Leskovac and one socially responsible cooperative in Niš, with their activities to date covering 170 youth from the NEET category through improving their own capacities for (self)employment. The project also supported activities defining regional recommendations for employment in the South-Banat and Jablanica districts in piloting the creation of intermunicipal employment plans. As part of a national dialogue on youth employment promotion, three symposia were held in 2015 and 2016, under the title of Common Vision: Youth Employment in Serbia, focused on solving challenges occurring in youth employment promotion policy and practice.
How do you see future activities under the Danube Skills project implemented by SBBH?
The project initiated many important directions of development. Development and change need time, patience, debate, many confrontations of opinions and standpoints, but we deeply and truly believe in the good will of all key stakeholders and the readiness to apply the new European Directive in the best possible way on the one hand, while on the other hand, that the broader system around the school will make changes that will imply a better quality of work for the school, better education for young people, and easier employment.
Likewise, the project is opening the door for all stakeholders in Serbia to strategically decide how they will join the community, to define short-term and long-term goals, and to use these goals to guide their strengths and activities.
At this point, the school is endeavouring to provide its students with quality professional internships, to improve the curriculum, and it is aware of the need to be an active member of the team that will promote the role and responsibility of the school in the implementation of the Directive, as well as the readiness to facilitate the cooperation and direct the attention of all stakeholders to the key points of cooperation under the Directive.
The school gathered other schools, the faculty, the Institute, companies, associations, as well as representatives of the Ministry, in a desire to shape the school and prepare it for the next developmental step.
We, as the YEP project, will further promote the experience, lessons learned and recommendations provided for by the school through cooperation both in the field of career guidance and counselling, as well as in the field of promoting the Directive and cooperation with key stakeholders through a structured dialogue, using a reference model and national dialogue for promoting youth employment. All these processes provide for learning, sharing and shaping of primarily practices, but also policies in education, employment, specific sectors and, we believe, a new quality of education for young people that we strive towards together.