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Different youth employment policies in Serbia focus on several key measures:
- Public youth employment services (such as National Employment Service);
- trainings for young people;
- encouraging the employment of young people through tax relief;
- direct creation of new jobs for young people;
- active labour market measures for young people;
- active labour market measures for persons with disabilities.
These policies, as further grouped in the research findings Youth and Entrepreneurship in the Republic of Serbia, can be divided into three major categories:
- active measures and programs on the labour market aimed at improving the labour supply (additional education and training for young people);
- measures to stimulate labour demand (stimulating employment, subsidies, etc.);
- measures aimed at improving the functionality of the labour market (information, career guidance, entrepreneurial counseling, business guidance, business plans, etc.).
The Youth Strategy 2015-2025 (Strategija za mlade) recognizes that there is insufficient amount of appropriate programmes that foster youth employability and employment. It also points out low level of motivation among youth for applying to these programmes. Thus, a strategic goal has been established - to improve employability and employment of young women and men by developing services and mechanisms that foster employability and employment of young people through cross-sector cooperation.
According to the Evaluation of Implementation of Action Plan for Youth Strategy 2015-2016 (Evaluacija Akcionog plana Strategije za mlade 2015-2017) the overall number of unemployed young people decreased from 42,3% in 2011 to 28,5% in 2016. Yet this percentage again increased in 2018 to 29,7%, according to the Labour Force Survey, 2018 of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia.
Another relevant strategy, the Strategy to support the development of small and medium enterprises, entrepreneurship and competitiveness for the period 2015 to 2020 dedicates one of the strategic goals to “development and promotion of entrepreneurial spirit and encouragement of female entrepreneurship, youth and social entrepreneurship. Related specific goals are:
- Improving statistical monitoring and research of female, youth and social entrepreneurship;
- Policy and instruments to support female, youth and social entrepreneurship.
In terms of policies and support instruments, the Strategy envisages different measures:
- inclusion of support for female youth and social entrepreneurship in all government documents that have an impact on the economy;
- increasing the participation of women, youth and social enterprises in various SME support programmes;
- introducing special support programs for SMEs intended exclusively for women, youth and social entrepreneurship;
- promotion of entrepreneurial spirit, examples of good practice, networking, establishing dialogue.
Employment measures are regulated by the Bylaw for Implementation of Employment Measures (Pravilnik o kriterijumima, načinu i drugim pitanjima od značaja za sprovođenje mera aktivne politike zapošljavanja).
Defined employment measures are:
- mediation in the employment of persons seeking employment;
- professional orientation and career guidance;
- employment subsidies;
- support for self-employment;
- additional education and training;
- incentives for users of financial compensation;
- measures of active employment policy for persons with disabilities
- other measures aiming at employment or maintenance of employment.
Persons seeking employment and employers are identified as target groups.
The responsible body for implementation of employment measures in Serbia is National Employment Service. It implements active employment policy which represents a system of plans, programs and measures aimed at increasing employment and reducing unemployment. The Service also implements measures through the projects that are implemented in cooperation with domestic and international organisations and institutions.
Measures addressing specifically/only young people are mainly related to the subsidies to employers from private sector that hire young people to the age of 30 that are:
- without any qualifications,
- with law qualifications,
- job seeking longer than 12 months,
- or were having a status of child without parental care.
Amount of the subsidy depends on the level of development of the unit of local municipality and the abovementioned categories of young people seeking employment. The amount varies between RSD 150.000 – 300.000.
My First Salary is a program implemented by the National Employment Service with the aim to encourage youth employment and support the economy in solving the problem of staff shortages. The program is launched in august 2020 and should enable 10,000 young people to work independently on specific jobs. Conditions to participate in the program are:
- a person has either secondary or higher education,
- up to the age of 30,
- has no previous work experience.
Employers who are interested in participating in the Program are announcing specific job positions where young people will be trained to work independently according to an established program approved by the National Employment Service, with a mentor who supervises and supports the process.
Young people with completed secondary education are provided with a monthly financial compensation in the amount of RSD 20,000.00, while for those with completed higher education the compensation amounts to RSD 24,000.00. A total of two billion dinars from the budget of the Republic of Serbia has been allocated for the Program. The funds will be paid directly to the persons on training, through the National Employment Service. In addition to the amount paid by the state, employers can also pay additional funds.
In addition, the National Employment Service supports young job seekers through different active job search trainings and clubs for active job search.
Reinforcing the employability of young job-seekers is additionally supported by numerous career guidance and counselling services within institutions and organizations that provide non-formal education, career centres within youth offices, different types of services for career guidance and counselling of adults - employed and unemployed, etc.Flexicurity measures focusing on young people
Flexicurity measures are focusing on employed people in general, rather than on youth exclusively.
Some important flexicurity measures defined in Employment Act are:
- possibility for remote working and working from home,
- an employee under 18 years of age and an employed person with a disability are entitled to special protection,
- the employer has the right to transfer by a decree the employee to other appropriate jobs, without the offered annex to the contract, if necessary to perform a particular job without delay,
- an employee may be transferred to another place of work under certain circumstances defined in this law,
- an employee may be assigned to work for another employer, if temporarily there is no more need for his work, if business premises are leased, or a business cooperation contract has been signed - until the reasons exist for his assigning, and for a period not exceeding one year, etc.
The main tool for reconciliation of private and working life in Serbia is parental leave which is regulated by the Employment Act. An employed woman is entitled to a leave of absence due to pregnancy and childbirth, as well as to a leave of absence for nursing a child, in the total length of 365 days. The father of the child also had the right on a leave for nursing a child. In the course of maternity leave and leave of absence for nursing a child, the employed woman, i.e. father of the child is entitled to compensation of salary.
Additionally, Law on Financial Support for Families with Children (Zakon o finansijskoj podršci porodici sa decom) regulates financial support mechanisms for families with children.Funding of existing schemes/initiatives
Financing of the employment measures come either from the national budget or through different projects financed by EU, NGOs, embassies and private sector.
The main public body responsible for financing and implementing the employment measures is the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs. The Ministry’s budget for support of youth employability and active inclusion in 2019 is RSD 21 million from the state budget and additional RSD 135,9 million from different sources, which makes the overall budget of RSD156,9 million (see Information Bulletin).
Ministry of Youth and Sports also has a dedicated budget for 2019 for support programmes and projects for youth employability in total of RSD85 million (see Information Bulletin).
Additionally, numerous projects aiming to support youth employability in Serbia are currently being active and supported by different institutions and organisations, i.e.:
- Education to Employability – E2E (Znanjem do posla) which has a total budget of EUR 13 million. The Swiss Government contributed with EUR 5.8 million, while Serbian Government contributed with additional EUR 6 million.
- A new project of the European Union in Serbia, aiming to support youth activism and employability has a total budget of EUR 4,7 million. The project will be implemented in more than 35 cities and municipalities throughout the country in 2019-2020. Grants will be awarded to organizations at national and local levels to enable youth employability.
The main mechanisms that foster youth employability and employment are to be achieved through the implementation of Youth Strategy 2015-2025. Action Plan for its implementation includes indicators that are measured in order to evaluate the success of the activities that:
- improve the existing active youth employment measures with special focus on the youth employment package,
- ensure the development of standards and models for the inclusion of representatives of corporate and youth sectors in local employment councils as permanent members of councils with voting rights,
- support the improvement of public policies that allow representatives of corporate and youth sectors to be engaged in the development of services (sectoral councils, business representatives participating in the work of local youth councils, representatives of youth participate in the work of local employment councils) and mechanisms that foster youth employability and employment.
Indicators that are being measured are:
- Number of young people encompassed by active measures and programmes (at least 30,000);
- Number of young people having found employment after the application of measures and programmes (at least 10,000);
- Number of services developed and implemented at the local level (30);
- Number of young people who are beneficiaries of the services (at least 3,000);
- Number of young people having completed training for jobseekers financed by Ministry of Youth and Sports (300);
- Percentage of youth becoming employed or self-employed after the training (60%).
Additionally, at the state level, the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia conducts annual surveys on employability including youth employability and activism (see Chapter 3.1/Labour market situation in the country).
The main outcomes of quality assurance mechanisms have an effect on the Action Plans for the next period of Youth Strategy implementation, as well as on the annual changes of the employability measures taking place in the country, i.e. Action Plans and employability measures may be redefined.