Belgrade Open School brought together more than 150 decision-makers, representatives of Western Balkan governments, business sector and CSOs during the second day of the conference "Western Balkan Civil Society Organisations for Youth Employment Support", held on December 17th and 18th, 2020.
The most important topics were related to the key challenges of public policies regarding youth employability in the Western Balkans, as well as the cooperation of civil society organizations and public administration. The conference "Western Balkan Civil Society Organisations for Youth Employment Support" is organized within the WEB4YES project, implemented by BOS with 6 regional organizations from the Western Balkans. The project has improved the skills of more than 1,000 young people who were employed or started their own business.
During the second conference day, on the 18th of December, speakers on the first panel session about Youth Entrepreneurship on WB were Goran Radlovacki, a project assistant at BOS, Bozina Stesevic, program manager from Association for Democratic Development – ZID, Jan Zlatan Kulenovic, director of the program from Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and Darko Radicanin, an executive director from Junior Achievement Serbia (JAS). Speakers presented the main challenges for youth entrepreneurship development, as well as the influence of pandemic in the context of employment, digitalization, creative industries development, and formal education’s role.
Goran Radlovacki emphasized the importance of switching the perception of youth entrepreneurship through different educational contexts, as well as, securing the start-up capital and simplifying complicated bureaucratic procedures. He noted the importance of additional support for the entrepreneurial youth through good practice examples, which were supported via the WeB4YES regional initiative.
Jan Zlatan Kulenovic remarked that the region has been facing the same problems for more than a decade due to the slow pace of changes in public policies, and their inadequate implementation. He emphasized that social entrepreneurship is the answer to bigger employment, as well as, for satisfying the societies needs.
Darko Radicanin spoke about the development of entrepreneurial learning and the needs of teachers for greater support regarding educational materials. “To develop entrepreneurship, we all must change our way of thinking – youth, their parents, teachers and the environment as such”, said Mr. Radicanin.
Bozina Stesevic made remarks on the good practice examples in Montenegro considering entrepreneurial learning which is developing on the 3 levels of formal education – from pre-primary to higher education. “We need to motivate young people to try and to perceive failure as an opportunity to learn something from it and to create a safe environment to encourage them”, he said.
On the second panel session regarding public advocacy activities in the WB, the speakers were Jelena Manic Radoicic, career guidance and employability expert, Silvia Dervishi, project coordinator in the Beyond Barriers Association from Albania, Mirela Kalamperovic, Program coordinator in Association for the Democratic Development – Zid, Zerina Selimovic, project assistant from Institute for Youth Development – KULT, Valmir Xhemajli, project coordinator from NGO LENS and Filip Kulakov, international relations and policy coordinator from National Youth Council of Macedonia.
Speakers talked about the results from national public advocacy campaigns in the last three years. Jelena Manic Radoicic talked about establishing Career Guidance and Counseling Standards, as well as an advocacy campaign for improving the internships framework. WeB4YES initiative conducted a series of research in the previous period to recognize the main challenges faced by the youth in WB regarding youth employment. Afterward, recommendations were made to overcome these challenges.
Silvia Dervishi spoke about the importance of overcoming the mistrust between the civil and public sectors existing in the region. Zerina Selimovic emphasizes the importance of support for young people and the importance of hearing as many success stories as possible, so they can be motivated to start their businesses. Mirela Kalamperovic pointed out the need for decentralization when we talk about youth needs, given the specific needs of young people depend on the region they live in. Filip Kulakov presented advocacy activities in North Macedonia as well as examples of good practice regarding different ways young people can be included in the decision-making processes.
In the end, Fanny Seree, a Policy Assistant in the European Commission talked about the importance of the active role of CSOs in the dialogue with local governments.
Within the WeB4YES initiative, four regional kinds of research on youth employment and entrepreneurship were conducted over the last three years. Also, National Youth Employment Fora have been established and concrete recommendations have been created to improve youth employability in the Western Balkans. BOS and 6 project partners supported 18 initiatives of youth organizations, and the capacities of over 90 organizations were improved through training.
Watch the second day of the conference:
WeB4YES Grantees - Employability in the Western Balkans
WeB4YES Grantees - Entrepreneurship in the Western Balkans