LEP internal evaluation

Promising results at half time: ILO comes out with mid-term evaluation of Local Employment Partnerships

An internal mid-term evaluation of the ILO Local Employment Partnerships (LEP) program in Bosnia and Herzegovina shows that the EU funded project has proven to be a laboratory for designing local and customized solutions for employment challenges in municipalities or regions of the country. Through a competitive call more than 150 project applications were received. The best 15 proposals received a grant for implementing their proposals and have started to train unemployed with the objective of reintegrating them into the labour market.

News | 23 February 2018
Emil Krstanovski is the National Coordinator of the ILO in Macedonia. As he wanted to take up new challenges in addition to his country portfolio he became a certified internal evaluator of the ILO. His first assignment in his new capacity lead him northwards in the Balkans to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was asked last November to run the midterm evaluation of a 4.4 Mio EUR project supporting local employment partnerships during three years (February 2016 to January 2019).

LEPs are local, tailor made interventions agreed upon by multiple labour market actors in order to come up with local solutions to specific employment challenges of a municipality or region. Through LEPs, local governments, social partners, businesses, schools and training institutions, and other stakeholders assume complementary roles and responsibilities in view of achieving shared employment objectives for their region. The approach was developed in the late 1990ies by the European Commission and then later on adapted by the ILO for the Western Balkans. It has proven to be a good approach as it mobilizes local resources and expertise, decentralizes policy making, and encourages innovation.

What surprised Emil most was the project team’s enormous effort in reaching out to potential applicants for the competitive call for LEP proposals. The team went on the road and delivered within a few months 46 project presentations in 16 cities with a total of 687 participants. The response was enormous and in the end 157 applications were received. A rigorous screening and selection process helped to select the best 15 proposals that received a grant for implementation. These 15 proposals are targeting at a total of 2000 people and should contribute to more than 600 new jobs. Disadvantaged groups, including women, youth, minorities, returnees, internally displaced persons and hard-to-employ persons are being trained for professions in processing industry, agriculture, tourism, information technologies.

According to Emil it was essential that the project team continuously guided and supported the selected LEPs. The evaluation found that partner organizations are highly satisfied with the trainings provided. The average score of participants’ evaluations is 4.57 out of 5. So far the project reached out to 389 participants from local partners that work in the selected LEPs and have been trained on the approach (207 women and 182 men). In the meantime the first success stories in terms of impact came out. All five participants that attended a 3-month on-the-job training for CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine programming and operating delivered by a LEP in Novigrad (part of Sarajevo City) found a job immediately after the end of the training (for details see here).

In case there will be a next phase of LEP, Emil recommends to invest more efforts into promoting success stories and exchanging experiences among the different LEPs. More needs also to be done in order to achieve a better inclusion of women in the labour market.
Overall, says Emil’s evaluation report, we can safely say that the implementation of the LEP program in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a good practice example on how to create jobs through decentralized responses to local labour market needs. According to Emil, the program should be scaled up in Bosnia and Herzegovina and be replicated in other countries of the Western Balkans.