Workforce Training Center to be Developed in the Vranje-led IMC Area
December 6, 2013- The Project is working to bring new
investment to and create jobs in the Vranje-led IMC Area by developing a feasible workforce training center model, through a $63,000 grant to ConfIndustria Serbia. Current investors, primarily from Italy, working
in the IMC Area footwear, furniture and textiles sectors, have expressed
concerns that the local workforce has insufficient skills to meet their needs. ConfIndustria
Serbia, a branch of the largest Italian
SME association, will conduct a demand assessment and identify possible models
best suited to labor market needs of present and potential investors.
will then use the study to apply for Serbian Government funding to construct a Workforce
Development Center. At the same time, the Project will continue to work with
ConfIndustria to motivate Italian investors to share in construction costs. The
activity is in accordance with the Ministry of Labor’s employment strategy that
envisions the formation of workforce training centers across Serbia. The
study will be completed by the end of April and will allow Vranje to apply for
funding to build the training center.
Project Brings Together Key Decision-Makers to Discuss Serbia’s 2014 Economic Priorities
December 3, 2013- Last week, the Project, in cooperation
with the Business Info Group (BIG), organized a conference titled “New Economy
2014”. The conference initiated dialogue among participants on obstacles for economic
growth and job creation in Serbia, such as the large public debt, lack of
structural reforms in the public sector and too much state interference in the
economy. At the same time, unused opportunities for economic development were highlighted,
including lack of strategic government support for entrepreneurship and
expansion of domestic investments (in addition to foreign investment
attraction) and more efficient disbursement of already drawn credit lines. Participants
did agree that progress has been made by introducing changes to the Labor Law
and Privatization Law; however, positive effect of this new legislation will
not be felt before 2015.
The discussion participants included the U.S.
and German Ambassadors, IMF and World Bank Resident Representatives, the Head
of the Economic Section of the EU Delegation to Serbia, as well as the Serbian Minister
of Economy and the President of the Fiscal Council. Over 130 representatives of
the private sector (General Managers of large domestic and international
companies) as well as international donor and development community and
national and foreign media representatives attended the event. The Conference was
organized as part of the Project’s support for a new economic monthly “Nova
Ekonomija” (New Economy) published by BIG. The magazine strives to improve the
business environment in Serbia by presenting economic development best practice
examples, success stories and interviews with leading experts from the public,
private and civil sectors.
Increasing Regional Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Competitiveness to Attract Investors
December 2, 2013 - The Project approved a $60,000 grant to Sandzak Economic Development Agencz SEDA, to assist the Novi Pazar-led IMC Area SMEs in four manufacturing sectors to increase firm competitiveness by expanding existing and penetrating new markets.
As a first step, SEDA will analyze potentials and barriers to growth in textile, footwear, furniture and food production in Novi Pazar, Sjenica and Tutin (comprising Novi Pazar-led IMC area). Assessment will also cover workforce development needs, to better match local educational programs with labor needs of selected sectors.
Together with Project experts, SEDA will work on finding and attracting potential buyers, partners and investors in each of the four sectors, through preparation of sector-specific promotional materials, establishment of business linkages, social media promotion etc. At the same time, local producers will be trained to improve their marketing, negotiation and sales as well as business networking skills, all needed when targeting new markets and investors.
This activity is part of Project efforts to increase regional competitiveness and generate new jobs.
Project Works to Increase Youth Employability
December 1, 2013 - In response to the Project’s call for private companies to participate in an On-The-Job Training (OJT) Program, rolled-out in October, 70 firms from 20 municipalities applied to receive over 300 youths.
Preference will be given to companies working in the sectors supported by the Project and firms planning to hire new employees within six months of completing the two-month training program that begins in March 2014.
OJT will help companies with five or more employees in the manufacturing and service sectors quickly and easily find qualified staff.
The Project will provide candidates chosen by the businesses with 60 percent of the minimum national gross salary during the training, reducing the initial burden on companies of hiring new employees. More specifically, in December 2013 the Project will engage an HR agency to find, select and match youths with individual companies, based on expressed business needs. The agency will also deal with contracting and other administrative tasks regarding engagement of trainees, while participating companies will provide mentors who will train the young people once engaged.
This initiative is part of SLDP efforts to decrease youth unemployment and generate new jobs, working in partnership with local governments and businesses.
Novi Pazar-led IMC Area to Tackle Environmental Issues Impacting Market Expansion and Job Generation
December 01, 2013 - At the International Investors’ Conference organized by the German Chamber of Commerce, the Project presented a business case of the pre-waste water treatment problem in Novi Pazar-led IMC area to 15 German and Austrian investors, representatives of the German financial institutions (Development Bank KfW) and representatives of the Serbian Government institutions.
German and Austrian producers of waste water treatment technologies expressed interest to cooperate with Novi Pazar-led IMC area denim producers and to provide technical solutions for the pre-treatment of the „blue water“, dangerous untreated effluent discharged at the finishing stage of jeans production directly into the Raška River or into the sewage system.
In order to achieve a pre-washed look that sells on the market, regional denim producers ultimately violate Serbian environmental legislation. Equally problematic, and more detrimental to the producers’ business, is the fact that large foreign buyers will not order products that do not meet international environmental standards, even if manufacturers offer excellent quality and favorably priced merchandise.
At present, majority of the family-owned denim factories in the Novi Pazar area are capable of subcontracting to the finest jeans brands in the world. Over 80% of their production is exported, and the combination of sophisticated manufacturing and high quality product at a competitive price, represents great potential for significant market expansion and sector growth. A recent assessment of a denim industry expert engaged by the Project indicates that, given the global denim market needs for new manufacturing sources, the Novi Pazar IMC area denim sector could expand its employment base (currently employing more than 9,000 workers) by three times, if appropriate management, marketing and environmental improvements are made.
The Project works to increase the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises by engaging leading sector experts to provide tailor-made marketing, sales, export and other assistance to the sectors which have the highest growth and employment potential.