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Labour migration

Crisis prompts Albanian workers to return home

The first modern Albanian employment centre opened last month to provide better services to jobseekers, particularly migrant workers returning to Albania from crisis countries in Europe.

Feature | 26 February 2014
TIRANA, Albania (ILO News) ‒ After the fall of Communist rule more than 20 years ago, Greece, Italy and other European countries became a promised land for hundreds of thousands of Albanian workers.

But those who found greener pastures in Europe also became some of the first victims of the financial crisis, which started in 2008. Many Albanians return home now and, today, it is rather unemployed Greeks who come to Albania for work.

The reason is simple: while unemployment reached a record high in Greece with 27.3 per cent last year, some 13.9 per cent of Albanians were jobless in 2012 by comparison.

Edmond Aliaj, aged 46, is one of those Albanians who returned home. He spent 17 years of his life in Italy but with the crisis he lost his job in the logistics department of an Italian company in Milano.

“I was obliged to move back to Albania. I was addressed to the employment office in Tirana and just a week later I received an unexpected offer… for exactly the same kind of job I held in Milano,” he tells us.

The job offer came from the first modern employment office in Albania ‒ opened in the country’s capital last month with support from the ILO and the European Union.

“Albanian jobseekers and employers have been missing these useful job placement services for a long time. With the heavy impact of the economic and social crisis in Europe, they have become more important than ever,” says Maria do Carmo Gomes, ILO Chief Technical Adviser in Albania.

The new employment office is located in the centre of Tirana, easily accessible, and offers a wide range of services.

These include direct access to online information on the labour market, registration, advice for job searchers, mediation and in depth counselling for vulnerable groups. The office also proposes profiles of employees to potential employers.

Moving fast into a new job

The profile of Eriselda Sherifi quickly attracted the interest of a local pharmaceutical company. She graduated from the University of Bologna in Italy.

When she came back to Albania, she heard about the opening of the Tirana Employment Office and left her CV with them. “Two days ago, I received a positive answer and today I am working for a local pharmaceutical business. I am grateful to the employment office,” she says.

Office staff was trained to effectively assist all categories of job seekers, from skilled workers like Edmond to highly qualified graduates like Eriselda.

“Our service delivery model is based on best practices of European public employment centres. It is expected to fundamentally change employment and training programmes in Albania, and better meet the actual needs of jobseekers and employers,” explains Peter Woods, the ILO expert assisting the Instrument of Pre-Accession (IPA) project on Human Resources Development in Albania.

The pilot programme in the capital will soon be assessed after one year of operations and possibly improved in order to open similar employment services in all regions of Albania.

These new modern and service-oriented employment centres will replace the old local employment departments in the country.

Developing human resources in Albania

Funded by the EU, the ILO’s Instrument of Pre-Accession (IPA) project on Human Resources Development (HRD) aims at improving the functioning of the labour market and the quality of human capital in Albania. Its second component – “Modernization of the National Employment Service (NES)” provides technical assistance for the design of a new NES service model based on the re-organisation of NES offices. The component is therefore an important contribution to employment promotion programmes in the country and helps to match labour market supply with demand.