Transitioning to a more productive economy, the Balkan nation is committed to addressing issues that perpetuate low quality education and persistent youth unemployment.
With its eye on the prize of EU membership and sustainable economic growth, the newly renamed North Macedonia is undertaking serious reforms to address challenges to human capital development. A number of long-standing structural and policy-related weaknesses have resulted in an education and training system that does not deliver on expectations, limits the employability of graduates, and compromises the competitiveness and innovation potential of the nation. Many young adults in North Macedonia leave education without mastering the basic competencies for life and work.
A fundamental roadblock to improved policy-making, the country’s data systems in the areas of education, employment and social policy results are fragmented and weak. If data collection, management, and analysis could be streamlined and harmonized and made accessible to government authorities and other relevant stakeholders, then it could be more effectively used to direct policy, implement change, and monitor and evaluate progress.
Launched in January of this year, the “Improving the Quality of Data and Strengthening Policy-making in North Macedonia” project is a two-year EU funded initiative. Designed to support the strengthening of policy development, sector governance, and the implementation of strategies to reduce the high rate of unemployment, the two-year project tackles “data chaos”. The overall goal is to increase labour market participation ‒ in particular of young people and women ‒ by facilitating access to quality education and training, better matching skills with market demand and establishing a modern and flexible social protection system built on evidence-based data.
A critical aspect of the project is the creation of favourable and coherent legal, policy and procedural framework regulating the processing of data in the fields of education, labour market and social policy. Another important component is the development and/or upgrade of information management systems that enable digital data collection, storage, processing and exchange of relevant data within the respective sector institutions. This will require the adaptation of existing hardware and software infrastructure.
Working together, Ramboll and NIRAS will build the analytical capacities of the leading ministries – the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Education and Science – and relevant institutions such as the national Employment Service Agency, schools, vocational education and training centres, social welfare centres, and social protection or social insurance institutions. This will include training on how to use data from the State Statistical Office, validated data from other sources, and and integrated database system for data collection, data analysis, labour market forecasting and policy.
“In simple terms, to a large extent this is an IT project with the specific target of setting up one single database and harmonized information systems that all beneficiaries, from schools to ministry levels, can use,” NIRAS project manager Borivoj Badrljica explains.