The International Youth Foundation (IYF) in a partnership with the Balkans Children and Youth Foundation (BCYF) undertook a 2005 CGI commitment to raise U$14.3 million by 2009 'to improve the prospects and quality of life of Balkan youth across different ethnic and religious groups through greater employment and civic engagement opportunities.' Through the Partnership Opportunities tool at the CGI website, BCYF was contacted by Studio-Moderna, a Slovenian-based corporation, interested in investing in BCYF's a youth employability program in Macedonia with plans to expand to countries such as Kosovo, Bulgaria and Croatia among others, in the following years.
The pilot program implemented in Macedonia was designed based on different programs run by BCYF and partner organizations in the Balkans region. After a successful implementation over its first year, Studio-Moderna again approached BCYF in order replicate this model in Kosovo and to expand it in Macedonia. This is the first initiative in the region to attract both corporate and public support for youth employment in the region.
Both BCYF and Studio Moderna have recognized the important need for this expansion of its Youth Employability Program. In Kosovo, according to official data the unemployment rate at the end of 2005 reached 39.7%. Other sources estimated rates from 35% to 44%, if not higher. This is the highest rate in Balkans region. It is also 4.5 times higher than the average unemployment rate in EU countries
The components of this project include the following components:
- Building awareness and support for youth employability
- Providing grants to organizations providing vocational training to youth
- Creating internships and job opportunities for youth
- Conducting cross-border exchanges between organizations involved with youth employability
- Providing small loans to youth for enterprise development
BCYF is a long-term, well-established organization in the region with credibility and programs with proven impact in Macedonia and other Balkan countries. A well-conceived plan of action for implementation was designed to make sure there is a transfer of knowledge and expertise from the international to the local and regional settings. There is a strong demand for this kind of approach among youth organizations and businesses in Macedonia, as the issue of recognition of non-formal education is currently one of the burning issues in Europe.
The design is worked out carefully taking into consideration the needs and demands of the society and all the essential elements are in place. It also has the support of the main actors in Macedonian society. It is also important to note that this is a good momentum for this kind of project in Macedonia, since the efforts for economic empowerment of youth are coming from various institutions and there is a favorable atmosphere for the project that will support the implementation and keep the awareness high about the youth issues.
BCYF is working closely with local Studio Moderna offices and HQ to make sure employees can engage in activities to support the youth participating in the program. BCYF has a program officer appointed for the management of the programme in Macedonia and a new person for Kosovo has been already appointed who will work closely with both BCYF office in Skopje, Macedonia and Studio Moderna office in Prishtina.
The sustainability of the project is ensured by the following factors:
- The project optimizes the active participation of the training organizations and businesses, the staff of NGOs and the business sector. Another reassuring factor is that its activities are sensitive to local conditions and build on the strengths and knowledge already existing in the country. They also build on experience gained in similar projects in the region and in the EU regarding comparable problematic.
- The initiatives taken by the project will continue to have an impact after the project has come to an end because it will fit into the long-term governmental strategy on VET and youth employment. As outlined earlier, the sustainability of the project's effects will be based on several safeguards. The structural framework of the projects allows flexibility and ability to respond to changing conditions and newly emerging demands. The anticipated formal and informal contacts between the institutions, the different NGOs and the businesses will guarantee that the trainings, job shadowing and advocacy campaign are not short lived acts but will continue for a long time after the completion of the project.
- It is noteworthy that the project will create a pool of specialists (QSC) who will together and as individuals, continue to have an impact on policies and practices regarding recognition of non-formal education and it's quality standards. BCYF high-quality and diverse network of partner organizations is another guarantee that the outcomes will have long lasting effects.
- With strong involvement of BCYF partner organizations (SEE Youth Employability Network) a regional dimension will be added to the project. During the first year of the project, possibilities for replication of the project in other Balkan countries will be examined. Of course, local realities has to be taken into consideration prior taking further steps in this direction and assistance from relevant stakeholders requested.
- Tri-sectorial cooperation (government, non-government and business sector) is added value to the project and it is crucial for success. Macedonia needs support on its way to EU and this project will scale up on all existing efforts and also bring innovative approach and expertise.
The expected outputs of this commitment are the following:
- Up to 1,300 youth equipped with employability skills in Macedonia and Kosovo;
- Up to 250 youth in internships and placed in jobs in Macedonia and Kosovo;
- Up to 20 grants distributed to training organizations in Macedonia and Kosovo;
- Up to 60 youth involved in exchanges;
- 10 experts involved in Quality Setting Committee (QSC) for non-formal education programs;
- 200 businesses associated with the program;
- 4 Business Leaders Forums organized;
- Strengthened cross-border cooperation in the field of non-formal education and employability.
In addition, BCYF will monitor the success of its program through the following indicators:
- Awareness about importance of non-formal education for employability raised in wider public in Macedonia;
- Higher number of businessman interested for employing young people and motivated to become business mentors;
- Database developed with all potential businesses looking to employ youth;
- Trilateral cooperation between governmental, non-governmental and business sector reaffirmed and strengthened.
SEEKING: financial resources, implementing partners, media and marketing assistance. BCYF is implemeting a new phase of the Youth Employability Programme for Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia as an extention of the prevous phases due to the excellent results