WB6 CIF Secretary General at the ETF Regional Conference

WB6 CIF Secretary General participated at the ETF Regional Conference “Use it or lose it: how labour markets, human capital and migration interact in the Western Balkans” – The role of the private sector is crucial in overcoming the skills mismatch”

Labor movement should be also seen as opportunity, as much as it may pose risks, and whilst the situation with the labour markets in the region, the underutilisation of human capital stock and extensive skills mismatches are some of the factors that impact migration in the Westren Balkans, region, the business community of the Western Balkans stands firmly on the position that the four freedoms on which the EU single market is based upon, should also be transposed adequately in the Western Balkans, which also relates to the free movement of people, was stated by the Secretary General of the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum Tatjana Shterjova Dushkovska, in the ETF Regional Conference “Use it or lose it: how labour markets, human capital and migration interact in the Western Balkans”, organized online on 01.12.2021.
The WB6 CIF, as well as all the 6 national chambers of commerce from the Western Balkans region, have been actively committed to the tasks of increasing the quality of the education system, especially in providing relevant and market-oriented vocational education. The private sector can have a big role in the goal to keep the workforce closer to the region – in order to achieve that, there is a need to enhance proactive role of the private sector in the reforms of the local education systems. The market at the moment shows a mismatch between the qualifications the workers (and the unemployed people) possess and the needs of the working processes in the companies. In view of this, cooperative training programs on all level of education, would on the one hand help the workforce better fit the labour market and get relevant skills, and on the other hand, enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the companies, which in bottom line brings bigger economic growth and better living standard, to the benefit of both sides (companies and employees), stated Shterjova Dushkovska.
The conference reflected on the study on how the characteristics of the labour markets and education systems affect migration trends and vice versa, prepared by the ETF, with the contribution of distinguished national and international researchers under the coordination of the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw). The aim was to understand under which conditions this triangular relationship could turn into a ‘virtuous cycle’ for the longer-term economic development in the region. ETF’s research confirms net emigration from all six countries between 2010 and 2020, albeit with variations: highest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by Kosovo and Albania, and lowest in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. Besides internal dynamics of low-quality/ low-paid jobs, policy changes in destinations contributed to this trend. Moreover, some countries of the region also started to attract immigrants and students due to the sustained economic growth (such as the tourism sector in Montenegro) and the uneven quality of educational facilities (e.g., Serbia, Montenegro). Some countries still suffer from high unemployment and/or inactivity, limited job openings and an (in parts) inadequate workforce lacking proper skills to spur innovation and growth, but it seems to go both ways in that these factors generate persisting migration and migration undermining further the functioning of labour markets.

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