The youth unemployment rate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is one of the highest worldwide, standing at 53.7 per cent in 2010, and it is nearly twice the unemployment rate of adults (32.2 per cent). The youth employment rate is also very low at15.4 per cent in 2010 compared to 43.5 per cent of the whole working age population.
The objective of the workshop “Youth employment in crisis: Time for action” was to discuss the youth employment challenge of the country, review the policies currently being implemented to ease the transition to work and to plan the way forward. The seminar involved trade union activists, employers, youth NGO’s, academia, representatives of state institutions responsible for design and implementation of employment policies, and other international organizations.
A recent study on the school to work transition of young people, based on the ILO methodology and conducted by the national think-tank Reactor, shaped the discussion. The research, albeit conducted on a limited sample of youth, shows that only 4 per cent of young people had transited to a career job, for over 32 per cent the transition had not started yet and 63.1 per cent were still in transition. Over 43 per cent of young workers hoped to find a better job and over 9 per cent were working excessive hours. For over half of respondents, low demand for labour was the main difficulty in finding a job. Among those inactive young people who were not in school, over a third were able and willing to work, but had lost all hope of finding a job.
The discussion of employment promotion policies focused on the recently developed National Employment Strategy 2011-2015 and the National Action Plan on Employment (2011-2013). The inclusion of two measurable targets in the National Employment Strategy indicates that youth employment has become a national priority. These targets are the increase of the youth (age of 15 to 29) employment rate from 26.5 per cent to 29 per cent by 2015 and the decrease of early school leaving from 16.2 per cent to 14 per cent.
To further strengthen its commitment to youth employment, the government decided to formulate a fully fledged National Action Plan on Youth Employment to ensure that the established youth employment targets are achieved by 2015.
To support the government’s efforts the ILO will provide assistance in the preparation of national action plans on youth employment. Furthermore, the ILO will help to implement a school-to-work transition survey, attached to the Labour Force Survey of the third quarter of 2012. This will increase knowledge of the situation of young people in the labour market, and especially on the demand for young workers and the expectations of prospective employers. The survey will, on one hand, profile those young people most at risk of poor labour market outcomes and, on the other hand, facilitate the development of specific youth employment interventions.
The participants emphasized that youth unemployment is a serious problem in the country and constant work and communication are needed with all concerned parties in order to improve the situation.