SERBIA: SUPPORT TO INNOVATIVE APPROACHES TO INCREASE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AND EMPLOYABILITY
beginning of the economic crises, national reports on social inclusion
emphasize long-term unemployment of youth and their risk of poverty as one of
the key challenges. This is complex problem due to many reasons – lack of
sustainable growth, quality of available jobs, learning outcomes, youth work
experience, social exclusion and poverty, inefficient partnerships and
collaboration between public, private and civil society sector.
In order to
address the youth employment from a different angle, Government of Serbia’
Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit (SIPRU) developed an innovative funding mechanism to foster new
approaches. Starting point was to unpack »youth employment challenge« and to
support models that effectively address the problem or its part at the
municipal level and new innovative solutions as direct response in line with
context, resources and capacities available. Tested funding mechanism (in the
form of the public Call for proposals/grant scheme) provided opportunity to
design, test and scale innovative ideas to tackle youth employment.
The program launched in November 2015 and is still under implementation. Beneficiaries are local CSOs for projects related to youth employment planned in partnership with private sector. Grant scheme provided opportunity to support development of the ideas (novelty for this type of the support) and capacity building on social innovation. For the evaluation of innovation level, social innovation criteria were designed based on the SI-Drive project, but in nutshell we were looking for the “solution that works”.
proposals was aiming to support partnerships between different sectors (civil,
private and public) and development, testing and scaling of innovative youth
employment models. Cross-cutting principle was inclusion of vulnerable groups
such as youth with low qualifications, Roma, youth with disabilities, rural
youth, young women, etc. Funding mechanism supported elimination of
shortcomings of the existing solutions (lack of clearly defined “who does what
and how”). The crucial element in that process was a permanent support to the
innovations provided by the SIPRU through intensive monitoring providing any
Panel gathered different sectors and selected 19 projects. Additional element
for concept notes evaluation was social innovation criteria (within the »relevance of innovative idea«). In first
cycle, 6 pilots continued to the next phase of implementation (e.g. from early
development stage to testing) and 2 solutions were supported to scale up. In
second round, 3 projects continued to the next stage. Youth participation in
the program doubled (200), it significantly contributed to their employment
opportunities and empowerment of vulnerable youth (60% of the total no. of
participants in the program).
the tested models and personal stories of young people in Kragujevac, Kamenica,
Novi Sad (http://www.socijalnoukljucivanje.gov.rs/blog/?author=63). Innovation
resulted from the implementation of the model as in the case of small CSO from
Kamenica – students’ »traineeships« in local SMEs, with co-working and
co-living in their eco-camp. Or case of the local partnerships and building
trust among youth, technical school and business with final outcome of
modernized curricula in metal processing sector (the SIPRU played a vital role
in making systemic impact advocating at Ministry of Education). Two models are
providing empowerment for NEET category of youth with improving IT skills.
Also, we have good example of providing more tailor-made »traineeships« in
companies for youth with disabilities.
program will be running in 2019 with 3 supported models from the second cycle.
Also, the results, experiences, lessons learned during piloting of funding
mechanism will be collected. Principles of collaboration and inclusiveness
should drive future policy design and policy testing in terms of process and
implementation. Social innovation approach could be a vehicle in making
systemic change focusing on outcomes (e.g. models for youth employment) rather
than on measures/services that are not hitting the root cause of the problem.