The Government of Serbia is currently implementing social inclusion policies to bring national practices in line with European Union recommendations. Part of this process involves finding a solution for the high youth unemployment in the country: 42% of Serbian youths are unemployed, with a larger proportion of this percentage being taken up by marginalised and vulnerable youth.
The From Education to Employment Programme (E2E) is piloting a demand-driven solution to the unemployment problem. Jointly funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Government of the Republic of Serbia, E2E partners with local governments, NGOs, and businesses in five municipalities (Novi Pazar, Knjaževac, Pirot, Kruševac, and Kragujevac) to find and test the most effective methods to ensure youth employability. The end goal is to apply the best practices they discover to the rest of Serbia.
Helping both sides of the unemployment challenge
After assessing which jobs are in the highest demand among businesses in each target community, E2E partners with firms to train unemployed youth in those specific jobs. The programme applies Swiss best practice that has been adapted to local contexts, which usually takes the form of funding and the provision of resources necessary to create and facilitate a theoretical and on-the-job training programme.
This approach creates a win-win situation for both the unemployed youths and the businesses in the target municipalities. The youth gain skills and experience that almost guarantees them future employment while the businesses offering these training programmes get access to a new pool of candidates, often for positions that are vital for the future growth of the enterprise.
Training future rubber technicians
The Silikon Komerc Company in Kruševac is one such a business. Although it is one of two large rubber factories in town, Silikon Komerc struggles to find employees able work with rubber as the Chemical School in Kruševac no longer offers training for rubber technicians. “We have a problem because some of the people we train leave shortly afterwards. At one point we even had people from Jagodina [almost 70km to the north] working for us,” said Vladimir Veljković, owner and director of the Silikon Komerc Company. “The connectors we make at the factory should be mounted at very sensitive places in the systems of some industries. We make connectors in different sizes and the production process cannot be automated.”
By providing the company with the resources and methodology to train new prospective employees, E2E has both given the youth in training a good chance at employment and Silikon Komerc a way to access employees with whom it can grow. “Our company plans to expand its production. We will need more staff and that is why it is very important for us to have trained people to do this job. The other rubber factories are also looking to recruit more people. Their operating principles are similar to ours and they work with mixtures which are very similar to ours. Therefore, our trainees have met preconditions to get a job in those factories if they don’t work for us,” Mr Veljković explained. “So, we thought this was a good method for us to obtain new employees while also doing some good for the community.”
Olivera Pejčinović (30), Dušan Jevtić (30), Andrijana Radojković (19), and Jelena Stanković (28) are four of the ten trainees who took part in the training to become rubber technicians at Silikon Komerc. They learned how to make and roll the mixtures, make and process raw rubber, tailor the rubber and, finally, confection and vulcanise it through a two-week theoretical course, followed by ten weeks of on-the-job training where they were supervised and helped by mentors working in the factory.
Olivera and Dušan both finished Chemical School to become butchers, but neither managed to find work in their chosen profession. When Olivera heard of the rubber technician training, the thought of her three daughters aged 5, 9, and 10 motivated her to apply. She’s very happy she made this decision. “I’ve never worked in my profession. I’ve worked in several production companies, and of the jobs I have done so far, I like to work with rubber the best,” she said. “I will surely look for a job in this profession and, with this training, I expect that I’ll be better able to find a job.”
Dušan can’t have enough praise for the course. “The mentors are really patient with us. They demonstrated everything several times and do not get angry if we wasted rubber. It’s important for them to teach us how to do the job properly,” he explained.
The youngest trainee, Andrijana, finished Chemical School last year as a baker, but never got to put her skills to work. When asked why she chose such a different field, she said, “I decided to go to this training because I believe it is better to learn something new than sit idle at home.”
“I heard about this project in the Employment Service and I applied,” Jelena said. “I thought this was a good opportunity to learn to work with rubber, bearing in mind that two rubber factories are operating in Kruševac. I believed that this experience would help me find a job.” Her assumtion was correct as Silikon Komerc hired her at the end of her training.
Jelena wasn’t the only trainee for whom training has resulted in employment. Five more trainees were employed immediately after the completion of their training by the other two large rubber factories in Kruševac. It is expected that the remaining four trainees will be hired within a few months. As Mr Veljković says, “The project was really successful because most trainees got a job after they finished training with us.”
Read more about the E2E project in the project section of our website.
Find out more about E2E on their website.