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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.11 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 22 March 2024

Forthcoming policy developments 

Upcoming regulatory changes concerning traineeships are anticipated in the forthcoming period, as the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans, and Social Affairs initiated the establishment of a new Working Group on February 9, 2023. This group will continue the drafting process of the Traineeship Law (SER Nacrt Zakona o radnoj praksi), that was started in 2021, set to bring significant amendments. Such Law is being introduced into the legal system of Serbia for the first time and it regulates issues such as the traineeship contract and its termination, the methods of gaining practical experience and appropriate skills through traineeships, the rights and obligations of an employer and a trainee, the certificate of traineeship and a traineeship plan. The public debate on the Draft Law was held in the period from August 17 to September 18, 2023, and its report is publicly available on the Ministry's website. The Ex-ante analysis of the effects of the Draft Traineeship Law indicates that it brings positive societal effects, particularly benefiting youth. Tangible benefits include the right to mandatory monetary compensation under the Traineeship Agreement, while intangible gains manifest in increased job satisfaction and enhanced productivity at both the company and societal levels. The main perceived risk lies in the potential abuse, where employers may exploit traineeship as a substitute for regular employment.

The Youth Guarantee initiative in the Republic of Serbia aligns with the EU Youth Guarantee and the Council Recommendation on A Bridge to Jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee (October 2020). The first Implementation Plan, covering the period from 2023 to 2026, is based on mapping young people classified as not employed, not in education or training (NEET), along with policy reviews and consultations within the Coordination Body. The plan outlines four phases: mapping and early intervention, outreach, preparation, and offer, along with cross-cutting enablers for effective implementation.

In the initial year, the focus will be on amending the normative framework, enhancing capacities at national and local levels, and establishing a monitoring framework. Recognizing the complexity of reforms, preparatory activities will persist throughout the plan, incorporating feedback from the piloting procedure. Pilot activities, commencing in 2024 and concluding in 2026, will be conducted in three National Employment Service branches: Niš, Kruševac, and Sremska Mitrovica.

Ongoing debates 

One of the biggest challenges in Serbia is the high unemployment rate of young people. Bearing that in mind, the priority of the decision-makers is creating conditions for increasing youth employability and self-employability through cross-sectoral cooperation with all relevant youth policy actors. In this regard, particular attention was given to development of mechanisms and measures that would increase youth employment, especially in terms of reconciliation of labour market needs and education. Therefore, the adoption of the Law on Dual Education (Zakon o dualnom obrazovanju) in 2017 is considered essential since it provides the conditions for acquiring, improving and developing competences in accordance with the needs of the labour market.

From the 2019/2020 school year, the model of dual education has been applied in secondary vocational schools through theoretical education and practical work at the employer. The Law stipulates that a student is entitled to a monthly income for learning through work at a net amount of at least 70% of the minimum cost of work. The acquired competences are tested at the final exam. The fulfilment of the conditions for conducting dual education at the employer will be checked by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.

Similarly, in September 2019, a Law on Dual Studies in HE (Zakon o dualnom modelu studija u visokom obrazovanju) was adopted, which introduces the possibility of organizing in parallel studying and work (an average of 450 hours of studying at a higher education institution i.e. attending lectures and exercises, and an average of 450 hours of work per year of studying during the whole study programme).  The law envisaged that a student is paid at least 50% of a basic salary during the period of studying and work.

Additionally, Serbia participates in the EU Youth Dialogue where young people, youth organisations, policy and decision makers, experts, researchers and other relevant civil society actors, discuss and consult on the priorities, implementation and follow-up of European cooperation in the field of youth. This 7th EU dialogue cycle was dedicated to the improvement of youth employment and education.