PRISTINA, Kosovo — It has been fifteen years since Kosovo Albanians returned to their country after being ravaged by war. After years of state socialism, many Kosovo Albanians were rediscovering entrepreneurial endeavors in order to survive. For each entrepreneur that would survive, there would be hundreds that didn’t. These people would find themselves out of work and out of pocket.
According to the Kosovo Labour Force Survey 2012 from the economically active population (aged 15 to 64 years), 35.1 percent are unemployed. The unemployment rate for youth (aged 15-24) is 60.2 percent. The primary reason is a lack of training. Even with a college degree, there are many people in the work force who have been unemployed for more than three years.
The United Nations Development Programme recognized the forthcoming troubles and began implementing Kosovo’s public works projects by recruiting 25,000 people to work from 1999 to 2001. The local communities had a hand in project selections.
The UNDP also began working with partners to better strengthen the local employment agencies. Their goal was to provide better information about the job market, enhance vocational training, effective job counseling and improve employment prospects for youth and people with disabilities.
In 2004 the UNDP achieved new success when its employment programs created 3,200 short term public sector jobs through 73 municipal public works projects. Since 2005, an estimated 10,000 young people have gained skills and qualifications for a multitude of jobs in the private sector. It has been shown that 46 percent of all graduates from these vocational schools find employment. The Kosovo government has taken notice of these numbers and has signed a five-year contract with over 3,500 firms to help young job seekers find the job skills they need in apprenticeship programs.
Still other municipalities have taken a different approach to their own unemployment dilemmas. According to Kosovo’s 2011 Census, the unemployment rate in Fushë Kosovë / Kosovo Polje is 36 percent and 46 percent in Obiliq/ć. These municipalities, partnering with the UNDP, have implemented a new program called the Territorial Employment Pact.
The municipality Fushë Kosovë / Kosovo Polje has committed 279,000 euros to implement the Pact over a period of 16 months. The pact is a contractual agreement with celebrities at the local level that will help address key issues in their communities. It also proposes employment measures for individuals in different situations and creates an interest in the job for those individuals. For those that have been unemployed for extended periods of time the pact will outline the steps they need to take in order to find training. It also clearly states the support individuals will receive at each step and they will get a job.
This pact was also designed to help provide green jobs for the most vulnerable individuals, training and grants for young and disadvantaged people. The pact will subsidize employment for women that have been out of work for a long time and afford better housing conditions to the poorest. Social entrepreneurship has also been introduced for the first time in Kosovo. The hope is that the pact will jump start debates about unemployment on the local level and come to affect other parts of Kosovo as well.
– Frederick Wood