Youth Networking Guidelines published to increase youth participation in development
January 29, 2013 - Through an SLDP grant, the Serbian Youth Umbrella Organization (KOMS) published Guidelines for Youth Networking at the Local and Regional Level and Participation in Decision-making Processes.
In 2012, KOMS held a series of workshops on youth networking and strengthening the capacities of young people to reduce the high rate of youth unemployment and to achieve a higher level of youth participation in decision-making. The recommendations from these workshops were incorporated in the Guidelines and include: increase cooperation between local youth offices, improve information distribution regarding youth employment and participation, introduce a formal system for youth activism, and establish youth networks to influence regional development projects.
The Guidelines were presented at three regional roundtables in Novi Sad, Nis and Uzice, and are now being distributed to local youth organizations, youth offices, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Provincial Secretariat for Sports and Youth, international donor organizations and other interested institutions and media.
Project support improves investment environment in Nova Varos and enables the municipality to gain Business Friendly Certification (BFC)
January 22, 2013 - As a result of technical assistance provided by the Project, the partner municipality of Nova Varos has been certified as business friendly by the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED).
BFC represents a certain level of efficiency and transparency within local administrations, and provides an evaluation of the quality of services and information that local governments offer to investors and businesses. In assisting Nova Varos to gain certification, the Project provided technical assistance for: improving local permitting procedures (developing a permitting guide, templates); creating a database of investment locations for potential investors; preparing documents necessary for the establishment of an Economic Development Council; and developing promotional material (a new municipal investment potentials guide, updated website with relevant investment information).
BFC is designed for municipalities and cities in Serbia that seek to improve their business environment and attract new investments to accelerate local economic growth.
Nova Varos is the third Project partner municipality to gain BFC with Project assistance, with Sombor and Novi Sad receiving their certification earlier in 2012.
Project supported internship program results in new jobs
January 21, 2013 - Nine interns found employment as a result of Project's internship program, which began in 2012. As part of a Project grant to civil society organization Smart Kolektiv (SK), internships are developed through the Youth Business Serbia (YBS) program and implemented by SK in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, the National Employment Service and Erste Bank.
Upon completion of the training, participating companies, who hire the young people for a trial period, select the most appropriate applicants. The nine employed individuals were part of the initial group of 25 interns placed in 11 companies in the Subotica, Novi Sad, Kraljevo and Nis-led Inter-municipal Cooperation (IMC) Areas.
SK began the second phase of the internship program two months ago, placing an additional 42 interns in 19 companies. In January, SK rolled out the third public call for unemployed youths to enter the internship program.
The Project helps IMC areas forge partnerships between the public, private and civil society sectors to curb youth outmigration and unemployment.
Request for Proposals - Preparation of the Feasibility Study for Water Supply System Pusta Reka
January 18, 2013 - USAID Sustainable Local Development Project is inviting eligible Serbian organizations to submit a proposal for preparation of the Feasibility Study for Water Supply System “Pusta reka”.
The Project will respond to questions from interested organizations received by January 23, 2013. The Deadline for the Submission of Proposals is February 4, 2013.
For further information and application, pls. download:
Request for proposals and Budget template
Roundtables held to highlight the potential of increasing youth employment through the serbian Diaspora
January 15, 2013 - Group 484 presented a study supported by SLDP on the potential of Serbian business and scientific diaspora to help increase youth employment at three roundtables in the inter-municipal cooperation areas led by Novi Pazar, Uzice and Vranje. The research highlighted city-by-city examples, listed countries with the highest number of diaspora from each local community, and provided guidance on how the diaspora community could improve youth employment skills, contribute toward youth professional development and support youth social entrepreneurship.
The presentations were attended by about one hundred representatives of local authorities, the National Employment Service, regional development agencies and regional chambers of commerce. Through Group 484, SLDP helps young people make use of all available financial and non-financial support, and assists youth in establishing enterprises with the help of mentorship guidance by Serbian diaspora professionals and local experts.
Grant to Curb Youth Out-migration and Unemployment Through Career Guidance and Counseling Mechanisms
January 11, 2013 - The Project has approved a grant to the Belgrade Open School (BOS) to ensure the sustainability of Inter-municipal mechanisms for career guidance and counseling. During 2012, with SLDP support, ten mobile career guidance teams were established and provided over 170 youth with career guidance assistance and information about employment prospects across ten municipalities.
Building on this foundation, the BOS will continue to support the work of these mobile teams to deliver career and employment guidance services to youth in eight local communities (Vranje, Bujanovac, Presevo, Vladicin Han, Novi Pazar, Sjenica, Zrenjanin and Kikinda). The teams will develop and pilot local-level career services and centers, and plan to reach approximately 1,000 young people through activities such as: training of peer career informers and teachers, career workshops, job shadowing visits, etc.
The teams will consist of school counselors, youth office coordinators and National Employment Service representatives. This career guidance program aims to curb youth out-migration and provide young people with the necessary knowledge and skills to secure work in their communities. This activity also aims to fight the high unemployment rate among young people by providing quality career guidance to youth when they are choosing their future education and career prospects.
Project's policy initiative leads to improved Law on Public Enterprises
December 21, 2012 - On December 17, the Serbian National Assembly adopted a new Law on Public Enterprises, which is expected to de-politicize and professionalize the management of public companies. The initial draft of the new law tied utility tariff prices to the inflation rate, thus severely hampering utility companies' investment capacities and modernization efforts. SLDP experts prepared a set of recommendations and mobilized donors and other policy allies (the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, and the Association of Utility Companies KOMDEL) to advocate for the removal of this provision.
As a result, the Ministry of Finance and Economy lifted the caps on utility service prices. The newly adopted law no longer ties tariffs to the inflation rate, but allows PUCs full cost recovery. PUCs will be able to finance improvements vs. depend on funds from municipal budgets to do so, and local governments will be able to focus more on overall economic development and job creation. The new law also requires that all PUC directors be appointed through a competitive public process and ties the evaluation of management to key performance indicators.
Project's Career Guidance Manual recognized as foundation for career counseling
December 21, 2012 - USAID's Sustainable Local Development Project (SLDP) Career Guidance Manual is recognized as foundation for career counseling by Serbian Ministry of Education. The Ministry has recommended that all 140 high schools in all 32 SLDP partner municipalities utilize the Career Guidance and Counseling Manual developed by the Project in their career counseling work with 90,000 students in these communities.
This endorsement comes at a time when the Ministry has intensified its efforts to systematically improve career counseling in secondary education in Serbia, aiming to close the gap between labor market supply and demand, thus lowering unemployment. Improved counseling competencies of school pedagogues and psychologists will enable them to better assist young people in transitioning to the job market or continuing their education towards employment which demands a higher level of schooling.
The Career Guidance Manual, published by SLDP, explains the role of career advising and gives practical instructions and guidelines for conducting group and individual career guidance activities. The Manual was written based on the work of SLDP supported career guidance mobile teams in three inter-municipal cooperation areas (Zrenjanin-, Novi Pazar- and Vranje-led).
Certification of first generation of Serbian youth workers, in line with international standards
Decembar 11, 2012 - Serbia’s first certified youth workers from 16 local Youth Offices were accredited this week following their completion of training provided by the National Association of Youth Work Practitioners (NAPOR) and supported by SLDP. The 22 Youth Office Coordinators studied advocacy, leadership, conflict management and other youth-related topics to meet European Union and Serbian standards in community youth work.
NAPOR, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and SLDP, launched the "Quality Services for Young People” program in 2012 to support municipalities’ efforts to employ qualified local Youth Office Coordinators. “High-quality municipal services for young people are critical for increasing youth employment, curbing youth migration and increasing youth participation in their local communities,” said USAID/Serbia’s Mission Director Susan K. Fritz at the certification awards ceremony, also attended by the Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports.
Program participants learned how to motivate and work with young people and how to encourage youth to be active participants in their communities. In addition, the certified youth workers learned how to design, find funding for and run youth-focused projects.
The newly certified youth workers are based in 16 municipalities within the 8 SLDP partner inter-municipal cooperation areas, led by Subotica, Zrenjanin, Novi Sad, Kraljevo, Uzice, Niš, Vranje and Novi Pazar.
Project Advocates for Inclusive Local Budget Planning and Increased Public Participation
November 30, 2012 - SLDP supported local civil-society organizations (CSOs) “Sandzak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights” and “Damad Freedoms and Cultural Center” in organizing a conference on financing CSOs through local government funding. The event advocated for increased citizen involvement in local budget planning and provided local governments with recommendations in order to improve public participation in decision making. Specific recommendations included: more public budget hearings should be held; local budget spending should be monitored on a quarterly basis; specific budget funds should be allocated for activities in support of civil society; and representatives of local CSOs should be included in local branches of the Serbian Coordination Body for Cooperation with Civil Society.
The event was organized by SLDP’s CSO focal point organizations (Sandzak Committee and Damad), which are tasked with enhancing citizen participation in IMC area planning and policy-making. Fifty-two representatives from local governments, CSOs, the Serbian Office for Cooperation with Civil Society and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) attended the conference.