Youth Employment Promotion in Serbia

Project description

Title: Youth Employment Promotion – Programme for Sustainable Growth and Employment in Serbia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Serbia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

Career guidance training


Serbia is still undergoing a difficult transformation process, but the political reforms that have been introduced are having a clear impact. For example, unemployment again fell significantly in 2018, this time to 13% (World Bank Data). However, despite clear progress with economic reforms, unemployment and inactivity among young people are still very high and remain key challenges for Serbian society. The NEET rate (the proportion of the total youth population aged between 15 and 24 not in education, employment or training) stood at 17.5% in 2018 (World Bank Data). 

Serbia has large regional disparities. The south, the south-west and the east of the country are where economic and social deprivation is highest. Rural youth, young people with disabilities, youth with little or no education and young people who have been unemployed for a long period of time face additional barriers to accessing the labour market.

While demand for labour is growing and the quality of jobs is improving in the economically stronger parts of the country, emigration of the highly educated remains a serious challenge for Serbia. It comes as result of economic hardship and a lack of opportunities and prospects that create a strong push factor towards leaving the country. Young Serbians cite Germany and other European countries as some of the most desirable destinations for emigration.


Young people in disadvantaged regions of Serbia are able to position themselves on the labour market.

Young beekeeper


The project focuses on improving the employment prospects of young people in deprived regions, taking into account both the needs of young people and the requirements of the labour market. In addition to providing advice tailored to individual needs, the project has also set up services for developing social enterprises in order to improve access to and participation in the labour market for disadvantaged population groups.

The project promotes cooperation between local and national partners, with the aim of assisting local employment initiatives in passing on their knowledge and recommendations to those responsible at national level. This is intended to initiate a dialogue on youth employment between ministries, institutions, experts, young people and employers.

The project also involves coordination of the German-Serbian Initiative for Sustainable Growth and Employment, established by the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and two Serbian Government ministries. As well as bringing together all ongoing and new projects within German-Serbian development cooperation, the German-Serbian Initiative for Sustainable Growth and Employment unifies and prepares future measures by implementing targeted thematic studies and assisting partners in Serbia with taking strategic steps.

Welding training


  • 10,376 young people have acquired career-management, entrepreneurial and job-search skills; 1,181 are Roma and 209 are returnees from EU countries;
  • 1,609 unemployed youth have attended skills training courses, including in the textile industry, welding, the customer service sector, the automotive industry, IT and other areas; 957 of the young people are employed, 97 of them Roma;
  • 496 young people are being assisted with starting their own agricultural businesses by cooperatives, selected agricultural schools and associations dealing with agriculture;
  • The Growthub programme is supporting 15 hubs and coworking spaces in developing their services and helping young people in different sectors to get start-ups off the ground. The programme has supported 189 young people to date, of whom 66 are (self-)employed; 
  • 21 social enterprises have employed or engaged in work 64 young people from vulnerable groups, drawing on the support of the capacity building programme for social enterprises;
  • The National Dialogue on Youth Employment is serving as a platform for promoting lessons learned and outcomes of the project, and improving Serbian policies, practices and strategies for youth employment.