10/06/2016

The issue of youth unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Over 50 percent of young people in B&H are unemployed, which is the most common reason for their desire to leave their homeland. Regardless of this, the education system has failed to establish a link with the labour market, so that a large number of students are attending school only to end up at the employment bureau.

According to research conducted in previous years, the unemployment rate of young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina is four times higher than in the European Union. These grim statistics are reinforced by the fact that more than 70 percent of young people would leave B&H, with no intention of returning. The Executive Director of the Youth Information Agency, Jan Zlatan Kulenovic recalls that the UNDP survey found that about 56 percent of young people in B&H are unemployed:

"Some people may say that the citizens of B&H generally fall into the category of the unemployed, however, that is not completely true because the population between the age of 18 to 25, is two and a half times more unemployed, with the rate being two and a half times higher than for senior population. This has not been recorded in any other developing country."

The two basic reasons young people cited for moving out of B&H are unemployment and substandard education system, which does not allow them to be competitive in the labour market. Studies have also shown that the entrepreneurial spirit among young people in B&H is at a very low level because more than 55 percent of them believe that they cannot start their own business, while 33 percent of them are discouraged by corruption, lack of initial capital and lack of support and mentoring.

The long-term solution for B&H is not leaving the country. Often we hear that "nowhere is easy". Maybe not, but if nothing else, by leaving the country young people have a greater chance to find work and sufficient security to start a family. Moreover, they can have better education, employment opportunities and vocational training. They can launch a business project in 2 days, as opposed to several months of frustration in B&H. The young people ought to fight with all means available to them to achieve the same conditions in B&H. They have to raise their voice, so that the government takes concrete actions such as increasing funds for setting up small businesses, co-financing first-time employment, offering a more substantial number of scholarships, strengthening the practical part of learning during the educational process, etc.

Institutions of both B&H entities, however, claim that a great deal of attention is dedicated to youth employment. Institute for Employment of the Republic of Srpska is implementing support for acquiring work experience of young trainees in the Republic of Srpska in 2016 with a total value of 5,960,597.76 KM, of which the Republic of Srpska budget accounts for 3.500.000 KM, Employment Agency with 1,457 .595,76 KM, and employers with 1,003,002.00 KM.

The project includes co-financing salaries for 624 young, highly educated people registered with the Employment Service who do not have work experience in their profession, and which they need as a condition for taking the intern exam and acquiring employment. Internship for those with a university degree lasts 12 months.

However, it is regrettable that many young people choose to leave the country instead of making an effort to change the state of matters dedicating themselves to the idea of progress and prosperity. No matter how unachievable and distant it may sound, despite the increasing unemployment, people should find reasons to stay and fight rather than opting for the easy way out. What presents the biggest impediment is the fact that only few people believe in progress, which leads to a general feeling of despair and lack of vision paving the way for political and all other sorts of manipulation.

Young people are not aware of their strength and to what extent they can influence the position and status they have in society, and until they come to realise that it’s redundant to speak of any sort of a major breakthrough and progress.

Predrag Bojić and Nemanja Bjelajac, BiH

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