Ministry of Youth Supports Project Youth Employment Activities
May 10, 2013 - In Zrenjanin, the Ministry of Youth and Sport signed a MOU ensuring government support for Project youth employment programs and the development of youth agricultural entrepreneurship in rural areas of Serbia. The Project used the event to present its “Diversification of Agriculture – New Jobs for Rural Youth” program.
This activity is being implemented in the Zrenjanin inter-municipal cooperation area (encompassing three municipalities), and aims to shift local agriculture production from grain to vegetable processing in order to add high-value crops and create a diversified product portfolio, with the goal of increasing small farm revenue and sustainability. The Project will also support the creation of agriculture start-ups for vegetable production, primarily targeting rural youth and providing these young people with access to land, equipment and infrastructure. The event was attended by representatives of all three local governments (Kikinda, Novi Becej and Zrenjanin), agricultural cooperatives, local businesses, the Petroleum Industry of Serbia (NIS) and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Development of Economic Faculty in Bujanovac to Create Skilled Workforce
May, 2013 - At the request of the Bujanovac local government (LG), the Project provided tailored technical assistance allowing the LG to obtain land for a planned economic faculty. Despite the availability of EU funding in excess of 400,000 euros for the construction on this facility, it turned out that the land the faculty was to be built on did not belong to the municipality but to the Heba Company, which bottles mineral water. At the request of the local economic development office the Project prepared a detailed legal analysis and proposed an exchange of land which will allow the faculty to be built. Based on this analysis the municipality will allocate land with mineral springs to Heba, while the company will give its land to the municipality, enabling the construction of the economic faculty.
Once this arrangement is approved by the Bujanovac Municipal Assembly an exchange of plots will allow the EU to release the approved funding and construction of this facility will begin. Currently the Economic Faculty in Bujanovac is located on one floor of the local culture center which does not have the required facilities or infrastructure to support the growing number of students. A new modern faculty will allow for the training of a qualified workforce with skills needed by employers, boosting the local economy and curbing youth outmigration.
Project Recommends Changes to Labor Law to Reduce Grey Economy and Stimulate Youth Employment
April 30, 2013 - The Project recently completed a comprehensive analysis of legislation governing engagement of work practitioners by companies and public institutions. The research compares different types of contracts available to employers engaging young people on a short-term basis.
Based on this analysis, Project experts recommended abolishment of redundant taxes and charges that burden contracts with career practitioners thus boosting employers’ incentives to engage volunteers, interns and part-time workers, while paying their social and health benefits. The Project also recommended limiting the duration of these contracts, thus preventing employers’ misuse of work practice as a means of evading full time engagement.
If these changes are incorporated in the Labor Law, they will ensure legal protection of career practitioners and help in limiting the grey economy. This analysis was presented during a roundtable on proposed changes to the Labor Law, organized by USAID’s Business Enabling Project with the Ministry for Labor, Employment and Social Policy, trade unions and representatives of the employers and their associations.
Twenty-Two Youths Employed Through Project Supported Internships
April 23, 2013 - To-date 22 young people have become employed as a result of two internship programs funded by the Project and implemented by civil society organizations (CSO) Smart Kolektiv and Group 484. This success was achieved thanks to the demand-driven method used, which begins with determining labor market demand: companies are first invited to specify their work force needs after which youth with matching qualifications are selected for placement in internships.
Through this program and the effort of the two civil society partners, the Project is familiarizing companies and perspective employers with the potential of internships, a concept that is new in Serbia. Smart Kolektiv assisted local young people to gain internships in the Subotica, Novi Sad, Kraljevo and Nis-led inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) areas (encompassing 17 municipalities) within the Youth Business Serbia (YBS) program. This program, supported by the Ministry of Youth, Erste Bank, NES and the Project has, so-far, enabled 25 youths to participate in internships, of which 12 have gotten jobs.
Group 484 has successfully worked to increase youth employment in the Novi Pazar, Vranje and Uzice–led IMC areas (encompassing 12 municipalities). So far, these efforts have enabled 48 short-term internships in various companies, resulting in 10 youths gaining jobs. In addition to work-placement, both programs provide education and training in skills needed by employers to participating youths, increasing the young people’s chances of gaining first employment once their internship periods are over.
Project Assists Development of Brownfield Locations to Attract Investment
April 19, 2013 - Supported by the Project, the city of Nis has established a working group, headed by the deputy mayor, for the revitalization of five brownfield locations and adopted an interim action plan. Earlier this year, the Project provided support in defining legal, institutional, economic and technical preconditions for re-development of these sites. Possible re-development options include a plan for structural conversion of facilities (keeping their industrial profiles but rearranging the capital structure), functional conversion (changing the industrial function of the brownfield site) or just protection measures for highly polluted areas.
Additionally, the remaining local government partners in the Nis- and Vranje- led inter-municipal cooperation areas (covering an additional eight municipalities) have utilized Project assistance to preliminarily define 23 brownfield locations for possible development. Project experts will provide restructuring recommendations for these sites and develop a catalogue of selected brownfield locations to attract targeted investment.