Youth employment promotion

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

Serbia. Buttons from the symposium on Youth Employment Promotion 2015. @ GIZ


Serbia’s changing and dynamic job market poses many problems for young Serbs. The proportion of young people in Serbia is constantly falling; the 15-to-30 age group now accounts for a mere one fifth of the population.

Young people are hit disproportionately hard by unemployment, with 43.2 per cent being out of work in 2015. At 48.2 per cent, the proportion of unemployed young women was significantly higher than of young men (40.1 per cent). Unemployment is much more prevalent among young people who have only had a primary education (40.7 per cent) as opposed to those who have a university degree (32.9 per cent). A comparison of different age ranges shows that the 25-to-34 group has the highest rate of unemployment, followed by the 15-to-24 demographic.

At nearly 20 per cent, the number of young people who are not in education, work or training is also extremely high. Children and young people under 24 are the most at risk. Underprivileged sections of the population, those from remote rural areas and Serbian nationals returning home are particularly affected and face the threat of poverty and social exclusion.


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


The project focuses on developing youth employment initiatives in two pilot locations in Serbia. The local initiatives take into account both the needs of young people and the requirements of the labour market. In addition to providing advice that caters to individual needs, the project has also set up services for social enterprises in order to improve access to the employment market for disadvantaged groups.

The project supports cooperation between national partners, with the aim being for the local employment initiatives to pass their knowledge and recommendations onto those responsible at national level. This is intended to open up a countrywide dialogue on youth employment between ministries, institutions, experts, young people and employers.

The project is being implemented at one of the locations by the Stuttgart-based consulting firm FAKT – Consult for Management, Training and Technologies.

Another part of the project involves coordinating the German-Serbian Initiative for Sustainable Growth and Employment. The German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and two Serbian ministries worked together to launch the initiative, which connects all existing and new projects that form part of German-Serbian development cooperation. The initiative also organises and interlinks measures for the future, for example by carrying out studies and helping Serbian partners to make strategic moves.


Around 6,750 young Serbs have received training in career management, strategies for finding work and basic entrepreneurial skills. With the aim of acquiring entrepreneurial experience and perhaps setting up their own businesses, around 50 young people have found an inspiring environment at co-working institutions supported by GIZ as well as other employment centres and organisations.

Of the 370 unemployed young people who took part in competence training, 50 went on to find jobs in the textile industry, 34 in IT customer service, 44 in the automotive industry and 100 now work as welders.

A further 57 young people, including 32 women, from disadvantaged Roma groups and returnees attended training sessions in Belgrade and Subotica. They were awarded certificates for completing the training and received employment contracts.

Aside from ensuring they operate efficiently, two rural cooperatives in Leskovac and a socially responsible cooperative in Niš also focus on including socially disadvantaged groups. To date they have helped 230 young people who were not in education, work or training to improve their employability prospects and become independent.

The project is helping 20 social enterprises across the country to optimise their efficiency so they can create new employment opportunities for disadvantaged young people.

GIZ helped to found the Council for Regional Employment, which ran a pilot project to develop a regional employment action plan in the South Banat and Jablanica districts.

The project has now helped to initiate a national dialogue about the challenges of promoting youth employment.

Serbia. Sketch from the symposium on Youth Employment Promotion 2015. @ GIZ