Civil society organisations in the Western Balkans have joined forces to introduce a novel approach in education that aims to increase the employability of young people. The project has one major partner organisation in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. In each country, the project is addressing gaps in what is provided by education institutions.
There are no quick fixes for education challenges, as the Centre for Youth Work (Centar za omladinski rad – CZOR) from Novi Sad in Serbia knows very well. This organisation has been working with youth for years. It used to provide courses, as well as working on youth advocacy, but youth employability really caught the organisation’s attention.
CZOR identified that the services that young people were accessing were divided between different organisations so that the service users had to go from one programme to another to get all the skills they needed for employability.
“We had the idea of piloting integrated services based on a one-stop shop for services for young people,” says Vanja Kalaba from CZOR. The approach was successful, with more almost half of the youth involved either getting employed or securing an internship. Then Kalaba was convinced that this model could be expanded into a regional project.
Giving education a regional shot
CZOR was able to take their niche intervention in youth education to a regional level with EU funding. They were joined by organisations in Albania, BiH, Kosovo, and Montenegro in this approach that would eventually increase young people’s chances of getting a job. “We wanted to strengthen organisations by creating a network that would make the actors more recognisable and relevant, supporting them to engage with the government on youth employment and outreach to youth,” says Kalaba from CZOR
The outreach had a special focus on young people with who are not in education, employment, or training. Hundreds of candidates enrolled, hoping to get the required skills after a year-long programme including digital skills and entrepreneurship starter packs.
The partners providing the service have rich expertise including career counselling, entrepreneurship, digital skills, and social media. Now the organisations are putting their strengths together and providing candidates with everything in one place, from sharing their expertise to contacting potential employers.
Sajra Hadžiarapović participated in training provided by the partner organisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina – “Centre for Youth Education” in the town of Travnik. She says that the tailor-made course taught by lecturers specialised in programming and web design addressed gaps in her education. An element that she appreciated even more was the introduction of successful entrepreneurs as guest speakers. “Enrolling in this format of education made me understand the IT sector better, and be able to apply the knowledge in the future,” says Sajra, who hopes that now she stands a better chance of employment.
The consortium of organisations is currently focused on sustainability of its model so that it can become the essential address for encouraging employability amongst young people.
About the project
The EU-funded “My Career from Zero to Hero” (02hero) project aims to enhance the capacities of civil society to be effective and accountable independent actors able to engage constructively with governments on the identified thematic priority of innovative solutions for youth employment in the Western Balkan Strategy. 02hero is an integrated model for NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) youth employability, based on one-stop-shop methodology, which provides all youth employability services in one place to develop the skills for future jobs in the 4.0 digital revolution.
Photo credits: CZOR
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