What are the main that young people face when trying to find a job? What causes high unemployment rates amoung the young peopulation and what can institutions, organisations and businesses do to address these causes? These and many other questions were answered at the Regional Discussion Forum, held in Skopje on June 22, and hosted by Center for Intercultural Dialogue.

The  1-day conference gathered around 100 young people, representatives of youth organisations, governmental institutions and research centres from the Western Balkan Region. The Regional Discussion Forum was the final event of the project ”WEBWORK: WEstern Balkan youth WORK(s) for youth Employability! – Regional initiative for a common approach to youth employability”, implemented by partners from the 6 Balkan countries. The main aim of the project was to contribute to the adaptation of youth in the Western Balkans region to the rapidly evolving changes in the labour market.

The interest to discuss issues related to the unemployment rates among young people and to measures that address this issue was high from both sides: representatives from institutions and young people. The forum started with a panel discussion with an open space for questions and continued with 3 working groups that explored how institutions, businesses and youth organisations can contribute to raising the employability rates of youth in the region.

A lot of attention was given to the Regional Employability Skills Portfolio, presented by Aleksandra Djurovic. The discrepancy between the skills demanded by the labour market and the skills that young people acquire through formal education was mentioned by every panel speaker – and the Portfolio showed the list of skills that are trendy on the labour market. It was concluded that more efforts are needed in the process of recognition of non-formal education, since most of those skills are usually acquired in non-formal settings rather than through formal education.

Violeta Stojanovic presented the agenda of the Macedonian Agency for Employment, which offers training in the area of, but not limited to, developing ICT skills, foreign languages and entrepreneurship. She also stressed the importance of strengthening the cooperation between relevant stakeholders on 3 levels: assisting youth in developing the skills that are demanded by the labour market, working towards adapting the education curricula to meet the constantly changing trends and needs of the market, cooperating closer with the business sector to balance the demand and the offer.

Ivona Krstevska from the National Youth Council of Macedonia potentiated that youth organisations are the perfect link to connect businesses and the young people. She presented the initiatives that the NYCM is implementing at the moment in order to help young people develop soft skills and become competitive on the labour market.

Given the diversity of the participants at the conference, the forum presented itself as a great opportunity to share good practices on institutional and organizational level and to establish potential cooperation links between the 6 represented countries.

More information about the forum, as well as photos, discussion highlights and workshop results can be found here.