Semin Dolovac, a 19-year-old young man with developmental disabilities, is completing his on-the-job training in an automotive tinsmithing workshop, an opportunity that had been organised by the From Education to Employment (E2E) Programme in Serbia. It was life-changing for Semin. “The workshop owner and other workers really accepted me. I’ve made every effort to learn the job and I hope I can keep working here. I love cars and I’ve grown to love working here,” he said.
Semin takes this job seriously. He goes to work in new, freshly washed and ironed overalls every day. His working clothes were a gift from his neighbours and friends, who wanted to encourage him and mark his first day at work. “Everybody was happy when I started working. It’s important to have a job today – to earn your own money. It gives you self-confidence and independence,” he added.
With his impeccable conduct and perseverance, Semin has completely won over the workshop owner, Nermin Hasanbegović, and his staff. They can’t praise him enough for the good work he does. “He’s never late for work and often stays beyond working hours. He was quite withdrawn in the beginning, but later he relaxed and built an interest in this job. When I noticed that, I urged him on by assigning him some simpler tasks,” Mr Hasanbegović explained. “He’s a quick learner and never refuses to do anything. Semin shouldn’t worry about his job. If he wants to work and continue doing what he does now, he’ll always have a place in this workshop. He’s part of our team and, should he wish to do so, he can stay until he retires at an old age.”
Semin is one of 20 people with developmental disabilities from Novi Pazar who participated in E2E. The programme aims to increase their employability by improving their professional and personal competencies. E2E is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Serbian government. NIRAS IP and the Psychologists‘ Association are jointly implementing the programme. As part of the programme, the E2E opportunity fund put out a call for proposals for employment and employability projects. Of the 43 programmes selected for funding in May 2017, 22 were work-based learning (WBL) programmes, involving 56 companies with difficult-to-fill job vacancies in partnership with (public) training providers. By the end of August 2018, 300 young people had completed their WBL training, and about 50% were employed as soon as training ended. Prospects are also improved for the remaining trainees as they can now do work that is in high demand on the job market.