About the ILO in Albania

Strong recovery and the same labour market challenges as before the pandemic

Albania has achieved important development results over the past two decades. The country managed to catch up with EU. While the per capita income was only 18% of the average EU income in 2000, it increased to 31% in 2019. However, the per capita income is still one of the lowest in Europe and the convergence needs to be accelerated. Demographic challenges (aging of the population and continuous emigration), a limited structural transformation (with more than a third of the workforce employed in agriculture), and incomplete economic and governance reforms hold back the country.

After a decade of solid growth GDP rates, the Albanian economy was hit by the earthquake of November 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in an economic contraction of 4% in 2020. The economy recovered quicker than expected from the pandemic and grew by an estimated 8% in 2021. A construction boom and post-earthquake reconstruction played an important role.

The recovery of the labour markets is lagging. According to ILO calculations, the country saw a decline in working hours of 9% in 2020 which is equivalent to 120,000 full time jobs. In 2021, the loss of working hours decreased but was still at 3.5% (equivalent to the loss of 45,000 full-time jobs). The loss of working hours did not lead to a large reduction of employment meaning that most workers worked shorter hours or remained employed while not working. The latest data from the Albanian labour force survey indicate that the employment rate only dropped by 0.8% in 2020 (age group 20-64).

The key challenges of the Albanian labour market remain the same as before the pandemic and include elevated youth unemployment (almost 20% in 2021), high youth inactivity (28% of youth are neither in employment, education, nor training compared against 14% in EU), and high informality (57% of Albanian workers are in informal employment, 2019).

ILO interventions in Albania


With permanent presence in the country since 2002 and assistance through the Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCP), the current focus of ILO support is on safety at work, youth employment, and advancing social dialogue.


Important development cooperation projects of the ILO in Albania include:

• Strengthening the State Labour and Social Service Inspectorate in advising companies on compliance with occupational safety and health standards and in       tackling informality.

• Analysing fiscal space for social protection responses and providing integrated social services to vulnerable groups; this included a cash transfer project for dismissed female textile workers during the pandemic as well as an analysis of long-term care services and the social cash assistance scheme in Albania.

• Technical support to the National Labour Council as the highest national platform of social dialogue on labour and social policies.

• Support to workers’ and employers’ organizations to improve services to members and to represent their interests in policy debates.

• Consolidating the out-of-court labour dispute resolution system.

• Extending public employment services to vulnerable groups.

• Enhancing vocational skills’ anticipation in agricultural value chains.

• Support to National Agency for Children’s Rights’ Protection and State Labour Inspectorate in eliminating the hazardous child Labour.

Albania has ratified 55 ILO Conventions: the 8 Fundamental Conventions, the 5 Governance Conventions and 42 Technical Conventions. Albania is the 3rd European country to ratify the new ILO Convention No. 190, which is the first international treaty to recognise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment.


Text last updated 2/22