About the ILO in Bosnia and Herzegovina

One of the most challenging labour markets in the region

Although the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been expanding steadily in the past few years, job creation has not kept up and the country shows one of the most challenging labour market situations in the region.  Employment and activity rates remain very low (35% and 42% respectively in 2019). Unemployment remains high despite a downward trend in recent years (15.7% in 2019) and especially among youth (34 % in 2019). One out of four youth is neither in education, employment nor in training. The country has one of the lowest female employment rates in the Balkans (around 27%). The share of informal employment in total employment is relatively high (30%). The outward migration coupled with a rapidly aging population put a strain on the social security systems, challenging their sustainability over the long-term.

Because of the political divisions in the country and a rather fragmented government structure the public administration has difficulties in coming up with solid diagnostics and the necessary reforms of education, labour markets and social policies. For the same reasons the administration cannot guarantee sufficient outreach and coverage of related services like employment services or active labour market programs. Social dialogue and stakeholder involvement are poorly developed when developing new labour legislation or other reform measures.

ILO interventions in BiH

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a member state of the ILO since 1993. The country has ratified 83 ILO International Labour Standards (Conventions), including all eight fundamental conventions. Starting 1996, the ILO has been providing technical assistance in a wide range of areas including employment creation, labour law reform, promotion of social dialogue and collective bargaining, and tackling undeclared work.

The most recent projects aim to support local employment partnerships (tailor made interventions agreed upon by labour market actors in order to come up with local solutions to specific employment challenges of a municipality or district), promote entrepreneurship in export-oriented and innovative sectors, support public employment services in reaching out to vulnerable groups like long term unemployed, and strengthen labour inspectorates as well as peaceful mediation of labour disputes.