During the regional conference, organised by the Foundation Ana and Vlade Divac, as part of the initiative to improve youth employment in the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey “WB&T for EmploYouth” it was mentioned that in the last four years, youth unemployment in Serbia has decreased by 3.7 percent. The percentage of youth unemployment aged 15-30 fell from 20.4 percent in 2019 to 16.7 percent in 2022 – these data are part of the Youth Participation Index that the Foundation Ana and Vlade Divac has been measuring since 2016.

Despite the significant reduction, youth unemployment still remains a challenging issue in all the countries involved in the project – Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia and Turkey, because young people are considered a key demographic group in building a sustainable society and we need to continue investing in greater involvement of young people in all segments of the society.

“The European Union strives to provide more and equal opportunities for young people in education and on the labour market, and to encourage young people to participate in society. In order to  confront these challenges, the EU support numerous international and regional initiatives, such as this one, which enable the activation of students and young people”, said Martin Klaucke, Head of Operations II of the European Union Delegation in Serbia.

Youth unemployment analysis by categories indicates additional challenges. Namely, it is obvious that more girls and young women were unemployed and outside the education system (NEET category – Not in Education, Employment, or Training) during the entire observed period.

These data speak about the importance of gender equality in the field of employment and the need for targeted support measures for young women in order to ensure equal opportunities for all young people.

“We are proud that for 8 years we have been measuring youth participation through the complex Youth Participation Index that we developed and which has now been extended to all countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Thanks to this data, we can exchange experiences and together follow the trends of young people’s involvement in important segments of our social life. Monitoring trends provides guidelines for planning new projects and initiatives so that we can continue working in synergy to further reduce youth unemployment in Serbia and the region”, said Ana Košel, director of the Foundation Ana and Vlade Divac.

“One of the most important results of the project is the cooperation that we have developed, which is an important resource for supporting young people here in the region, which will hopefully help to reduce the number of young people leaving the country”, said Vladimir Gjorgjevski, director of the Regional Office for Youth Cooperation in North Macedonia.

The conclusion of these discussions is that all relevant organisations, institutions and society as a whole should work together to create a stimulating environment that stimulates youth employment and provides support in overcoming obstacles faced by vulnerable categories of young people. All young people should be given an equal opportunity, and efforts should be made to provide vulnerable groups with access to education and various other types of employment incentives or options to start their own business.

The project is coordinated by the Foundation Ana and Vlade Divac (Serbia), with the support of the European Commission, and in cooperation with partner organisations Partners Albania for Change and Development (Albania), NGO Prima (Montenegro), Youth Alliance Kruševo (North Macedonia) and Community Volunteers Foundation (Turkey) which, since 2016, measure the Youth Participation Index annually, with the aim of improving the economic, social and political participation of young people in social development in the entire region, and together with 68 civil society organizations from the region, form the Youth Hub Western Balkans and Turkey.