Albania: Youth employment as a priority for the Post2015 development agenda
By Alfred Topi, ILO in Albania
March 7, 2013
The official unemployment rate in Albania is around 13 percent, while youth unemployment is twice as high (INSTAT).
Because of this high rate and the fact that the existing Millennium Development Goals are not particularly focused on youth employment, Albania made sure to include this issue in the current discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.
I was recently part of discussions with represenatives of Social Partners in the National Labour Council, and members of the Overview Board of 2012-2015 Decent Work Country Programme on post-2015 development priorities related to employment with a specific focus on youth employment.
During discussions with social partners, participants identified several issues of importance, such as:
- Young people in Albania look to the public sector for employment
Participants noticed that this is a trend throughout the Balkans, and is probably primarily culture related. Young people consider employment within the government a golden opportunity in terms of job security.
United Nations participants argued that job security and stability should not be the reason for seeking employment in the public sector, considering that the past 20 years of development in Albania has its roots in private entrepreneurship and non-public employment.
- A need to strengthen the education system in line with labour market needs
Participants highlighted that most employers are worried about the low level of qualification of newly hired employees.
Participants said that the fact that many young qualified candidates find employment abroad is an indication that labour market mechanisms are not functioning properly.
- Economic and social policies to address poverty need to be drafted and implemented
Poverty has decreased in Albania since 2000, but it still exists. Young people living in poverty do not have sufficient access to the education system, leaving them unprepared for the labour market. Efforts should continue to address poverty when drafting economic and social policies.
- A need to continuously address issues related to informal employment
The informal sector undermines a competitive economy, destroys labour standards and is a step back in the progress towards decent work.
The Government and social partners need to work together to address informality; and employment and labour inspection services should be one step ahead of economic development in order to ensure decent work standards.
- Occupational safety and health is still a challenge
Despite progress, occupational safety and health needs to remain a focus of the Government, social partners and the international community. Ensuring that people have safe employment now will prevent damages – easier than repairing them later.
- The need to motivate young people
Today young people seek membership in political parties as a way to get employment. Politicization of the employment issue negatively affects young people and the entire society.
While the state should work to create conditions for more jobs, it is not responsible for finding jobs for young people. It is necessary to educate young people by conveying the message that work is an honour as well as a need.
- Lack of specific school programmes to prepare young people for the labour market
Curriculum and textbooks don’t include information on the labour market and its operation, and information technologies (IT) are imperative to prepare young people for the modern labour market. They should be introduced in school in grades eight and nine; and should help orient students towards vocational education.
Special attention should be devoted to vocational training programmes, currently not sufficient to provide adequately trained people to the evolving labor market. (See: Jobs for young Albanians)
Participants, considering that future development of the country should be channeled towards inclusive and sustainable development, proposed the need to:
- Keep employment, decent work standards and social dialogue at the top of Albania’s priorities;
- Raise awareness of young people (from family, school, work) to be oriented towards self-employment;
- Revise curricula to give to young people basic knowledge on the labour market and how to access it;
- Promote entrepreneurship using various channels including media;
- Call for increased collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities to further match the demand for jobs with the needs of the labour market;
- Improve occupational and health conditions in the work place;
- Expand vocational education, improve the quality of training and ensure that learning becomes a long life process;
- Review the social insurance scheme aiming to make it economically sustainable.
I’m impressed with specific feedback we got on the way forward, and stay tuned as discussions continue!