MONS "Youth in Serbia: Journey From School to Work"

Belgrade, October 4, 2017. Participants of the panel discussion "Youth in Serbia: Journey From School to Work", organized to present the third issue and topic on the internet platform for monitoring the social situation in Serbia, MONS, noted that the transition from school to work in Serbia is slow, and that the quality of jobs held by young people in the labor market is not satisfactory. In addition, the problems in school-to-work transition of youth in Serbia negatively affect the society as a whole, by negatively impacting and slowing down of other life transitions, such as getting married or becoming a parent.

Panel discussion participants included Lara Lebedinski, the FREN researcher and the editor of the third issue of MONS, Gabriela Grujic, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development, and Carole Poullaouec, Program Manager of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia.

According to Lara Lebedinski, the situation on the labor market at the moment when a young person finishes the education process is crucial for his/her future career. An unfavorable situation on the labor market affects the level of earnings and the possibility of finding a job, even later, throughout the lifetime, emphasized Lebedinski.

Speaking about the dual education in Serbia, the Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development said that this is a unique system adapted to the Serbian economy based on small and medium-sized enterprises. Nineteen new dual educational profiles have been created in 13 municipalities and encompassed 60 secondary vocational schools. In addition to theoretical knowledge students gain in the school, they spend one, two or three days a week in companies where they acquire practical skills. According to Mrs. Grujic, in this way, instead of adapting the education system to the needs of the labor market, a link is established between the education process and businesses. This dual education is not implemented in the whole educational system, but rather when and where there is a need for it, Mrs. Grujic added.

As an example of good practice in supporting young people on their journey from education to employment, Carole Poullaouec, Program Manager of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, mentioned the example of Bulgaria, where the national government employed 100 mediators for employment of young people, who worked with local self-governments to adapt the employment services for young people, and Germany, where specialized youth employment agencies have been established in pilot cities, such as Hamburg, which have managed to reduce the youth unemployment by almost 50%.

According to data presented on the MONS platform:

  • In Serbia, the unemployment rate for young people aged 15-29 was 34.9% in 2015, compared to the European Union, where it was 16.1%;
  • As many as 20% of young people aged 15 to 29 who find employment do not have a written contract, and 45% of young people who have a job do not have social or health insurance, nor do they have the right to vacation or sick leave;
  • Among employed youth, 40% of them have only a fixed-term contract;
  • Although the legally stipulated full-time work is 40 hours per week, about 55% of young people in Serbia work between 40 and 50 hours per week, while almost 20% of young people work longer than 50 hours a week.

Researchers, authors on the MONS platform, emphasize that a young person in Serbia on average needs 2 years after the completion of education to find the first stable or satisfactory job. The ones with the finished elementary school are waiting for the job for almost four years, those with a secondary education - two years, while those with a University degree are on average looking for the first job for a year. Because they are waiting for the first job for too long, every fifth young person in Serbia is forced to accept the job for which he/she is overqualified, i.e. the job on which their level of education goes beyond the necessary qualifications.

According to the 2014 data, Serbia allocates less than 0.1% of GDP for active programs and employment measures, compared to 0.57% of the EU average. Given the limited financial resources available, the MONS authors recommend policy makers to determine priority youth groups for support and to take measures primarily targeting those young people who are the most vulnerable, those with low levels of education and discriminated categories of youth, such as Roma and youth with disabilities.