Western Balkans: Stay or leave? How the right advice is helping people build a future for themselves

Should they stay in their home countries, return home from abroad or migrate to Germany? The German Information Points for Migration, Vocational Training and Careers Advice (DIMAK) in Kosovo, Albania and Serbia provide young people in particular with information about work and training opportunities – giving them a new sense of direction. 

In many developing countries and emerging economies, the situation on the job market is tense. A poor economic situation, high unemployment and inadequate vocational training systems are hampering people's future prospects, especially young people. Many see migration as the only way out – also because most of them are not aware of the training and work opportunities they actually already have at home.

Tens of thousands of young people from the Balkan States are drawn to West Europe in their search for a better future. But it is not easy to succeed here. Anyone who comes to Germany via irregular channels has virtually no chance of being allowed to stay. However, in their home countries, people often lack sufficient access to information regarding work permits and official entry requirements.

And this is where the German Information Points for Migration, Vocational Training and Careers Advice – DIMAK for short – offers assistance. DIMAK are operated by the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) – a joint initiative by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the German Federal Employment Agency’s International Placement Office (ZAV/BA). On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), CIM is currently operating three centres of this kind, partly in collaboration with national employment agencies in Serbia, Albania and Kosovo, although others are in the pipeline. At the DIMAK, people can access customised advice on job and training opportunities in their country of origin and in Germany, too. Most of all, people are keen to find out about the options they have at home. 'The majority of young people who come here seeking advice actually want to stay in their own country,' says Alexander Seidl, DIMAK Regional Coordinator in the Western Balkans. 'Provided they have a future here.'

More than just advice: Employment contract thanks to a job fair

These information centres are also an important source of advice for people who have already spent time working in Germany or another European country but who now wish to find a good job back home again. In 2016, Germany alone saw almost 14,000 Albanians return back to their home. Thanks to their experience abroad and their language skills, these returnees are very popular with potential employers – they simply have to find out about each other.

And that's where DIMAK comes in. Together with ZAV/BA, the DIMAK organise job and career fairs where employers can recruit skilled workers and trainees. In May 2016, for example, some 1,200 vacancies were on offer on one single day at a fair in Pristina. The event was a great success, with 430 people being able to sign a job contract in Kosovo on the spot.

To assist the local employment agencies to better coordinate supply and demand, DIMAK also advises on the professionalization of careers and training guidance services. In rural areas especially, this often proves a challenge. In cooperation with employment agencies and vocational schools, the DIMAK organise Information Days on site. They also have mobile teams of advisers who put on smaller-scale information events in remote regions. On market squares or in youth centres, they talk to jobseekers about the opportunities that await them.

On behalf of


Alexander Seidl