Mrs. State Secretary,
Mr. State Secretary,
Your Excellency Mr. Schieb, dear Thomas,
Dear Partners and Colleagues
I am very pleased to be here today and to join you for the opening of the National Dialogue on Youth Employment, a vital topic in the current Serbian socio-economic context.
When Switzerland started to cooperate with Serbia on the topic of youth employment, youth unemployment in Serbia was around 40%. In the meantime the situation has luckily much improved, but the youth unemployment rate is still twice as high as the overall unemployment rate in Serbia.
It is a fact that in almost all countries in the world youth unemployment rate is higher, if not much higher than the overall unemployment rate. In Switzerland both rates are very close. The main reason for such a performance lies in the dual education system, which gives young men and women the skills the labor market is asking for. Dual education system is at the very heart of the good shape of the Swiss economy.
To share this experience with Serbia, Switzerland is supporting the dual education reform by making available Swiss experts who contribute to develop the Serbian model of dual education.
In addition, Switzerland has entered into the program from Education to Employment (namely E2E) in partnership with the Government of Serbia. 7 million euros have already been spent and another 7 million euros are already allocated starting in 2020. This program is promoting work-based learning for young people and is building valuable alliances between public, civil and private actors involved in youth employment.
From day one, Switzerland’s commitment in favor of youth employment has received strong support by President Vucic himself, giving regular attention to our programs. It is not only very encouraging for us, but above all for dual education system and work-based learning.
The first phase of the E2E project shows excellent results. Concretely, 60% of the young women and men who worked with the E2E project got jobs and managed to maintain their positions a year and a half later. In addition, 24% of vulnerable youth received job contracts. In this process, the project is working with 128 companies, mainly Serbian SMEs.
The E2E project is important for Switzerland for several reasons:
First, it tackles youth unemployment with a top down approach as well as with a bottom up one. The top down approach operates at the strategic and policy level of the government by supporting the shaping and the implementation of necessary reforms.
On the bottom up approach, very concrete solutions are supported at the local level. This experience coming from the ground feeds in the national policy dialogue.
Moreover, E2E calls for private public partnerships in designing work based learning programs. Bringing the public and private sector together is a key element of success. We are pleased to see that we reached a cost sharing average of 50% of costs for the public sector and 50% for the private sector.
By achieving its prime goal, which is to increase youth employment, E2E contributes also to establish a better functioning and more flexible labor market. Local communities are becoming more attractive to investors, which will in return speed-up economic development, create jobs and additional revenues. Together this gives young people a perspective to stay in their municipality.
In the next period, Switzerland will put an even stronger focus on strengthening local economic development and on fostering a private sector responsive to youth skills development. As an economist, I can say that I am glad that we have a clear focus on economic development. As a diplomat. I must remind that the economic reforms must go hand in hand with needed reforms for improving the rule of law. I am pleased that the E2E is having a comprehensive approach and is working on both dimensions which are dear to me.
I wish you a successful exchange and I am confident that conclusions of this national dialogue will not only remain within the Hotel Zira, but will spread all over Serbia to bring tangible results for young people, among others, in Krusevac, Kragujevac, Knjazevac, Pirot, Novi Pazar, just to name the towns and cities where E2E is operational.
Thank you for your attention.
Hvala na paznji.