The youth unemployment rate in Macedonia peaked at about 50%. The Macedonian Government undertook a number of measures to decrease this percentage, but one of them emerged as particularly effective – the Youth Guarantee scheme. With Swiss support, Macedonia become the first non-EU country to successfully implement this innovative approach in three pilot municipalities. The results achieved in a period of just six months are impressive: more than 650 young people were (self-) employed, 233 started internships and 202 entered into additional training between April and August 2018. Developed in 2013, the Youth Guarantee scheme is one of the most innovative labour market policies implemented in EU countries in recent years. It is a promise of governments to the youth that they will receive a quality offer of employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship within four months of enrolling in the scheme.
Switzerland supported the introduction of youth guarantee in Macedonia in all stages. The Youth Guarantee was first introduced in Macedonia by the National Youth Council of Macedonia (NYCM) as a concept outlined in the National Youth Strategy for Macedonia 2016-2025. At that time, Switzerland supported NYCM in strengthening their capacities to define, voice and lobby for youth relevant policy measures, including the Youth Guarantee. In 2018, this measure was recognised by the Macedonian Government as a relevant model to test in addressing youth unemployment. With Swiss support, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy adapted and piloted this labour policy measure in three municipalities from April to August 2018. To support on-the-ground implementation of the Youth Guarantee, Switzerland supported the field work of the NYCM to reach out to unemployed youth, inform them about the measure and motivate them to apply. Also, the employees of the Employment Service Agency (ESA) were trained to best match the skills and competences of the unemployed youth to the available support measures through a thorough career counselling process.
The experience of those involved in the Youth Guarantee are positive. “It is not the same when you are looking for a job by yourself, compared to when someone knocks on your door, guides you through the system and helps you throughout the way”, explains Semija Demova, one of the young people employed through the Youth Guarantee. The strong partnership between the Employment Service Agency, the civil society organizations, and the private sector, is one of the key factors of success of this measure. “It was the strong partnership and the collaboration between NYCM and ESA that ensured youth were personally guided throughout the entire process, from registration to employment”, said Irina Georgieva, a field worker from NYCM. For Josip Vasilev, employee at ESA, the essential for the success of the YG was the personalized approach. “Through intense discussions, we guided each candidate in finding what are the best options for their future. At the same time, we ensured that the businesses were matched with the right persons for the job.”
Based on the success of the piloting, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy announced its intention to scale-up the implementation of the Youth Guarantee scheme in 2019, doubling its budget and allowing more youth to utilize the benefits of the scheme, thus making a significant contribution to the decrease in youth unemployment. Switzerland will continue to support the implementation of the Youth Guarantee scheme in Macedonia. In addition to further supporting the field work of the of the organizations that reach out to the youth, and further adapting the approach of the employment service agency in working with youth, Switzerland will also support the strengthening of the trainings offered through the scheme.