Grant Approved for Training of Local Officials in Economic Development Skills
May, 2013 - The Project awarded the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM) with approximately $100,000 to improve the skills of newly elected local officials in effectively utilizing local economic development (LED) tools. From June 2013 to May 2014 the SCTM will work to improve local officials’ capacities through a combination of training, coaching and web-based distance learning programs. The Project and SCTM will train at least 200 local officials (members of municipal assemblies and municipal councils from 32 cities and municipalities) in LED legal and institutional mechanism and teach them to effectively manage LED function.
Simultaneously, through a distance learning program at least 50 LED practitioners will improve their knowledge and skills to attract investments and generate new jobs. At last year’s elections a great number of new local officials were appointed, who lack governing experience and knowledge of economic policies. This trend has negatively impacted local economies and resulted in some LED offices being downgraded within local administrations. Founded in 1953, the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities is the national association of towns and municipalities in Serbia. The organization aims to improve the position of its members by advocating for their interests at the national level and fostering cooperation among local authorities.
Third Career Guidance Training to Reduce Youth Unemployment Held
May 15, 2013 - Tthe Project held the third career guidance development training in the Novi Sad-led Inter-Municipal Cooperation area (encompassing Novi Sad, Sremski Karlovci, Temerin and Beocin) to teach youth workers how to improve young people’s school-to-work transition. The training also included representatives of the Vojvodina Metal Cluster, a key stakeholder in the Project’s Novi Sad IMC economic development project. Metal cluster representatives presented their current labor needs and informed participating Novi Sad Education Center teachers, psychologists and youth office representatives of how to assist young people in searching for job opportunities within one of over 116 metal cluster members. The trainings also addressed the shortcomings in Serbia’s education system, which has no set mechanism for informing students of career opportunities, existing labor market demand or further educational opportunities. The training strengthened the participants’ career guidance skills to better match the interests and education of youth with the existing labor market needs.
Ministry of Youth Supports Project Youth Employment Activities
May 10, 2013 - In Zrenjanin, the Ministry of Youth and Sport signed a MOU ensuring government support for Project youth employment programs and the development of youth agricultural entrepreneurship in rural areas of Serbia. The Project used the event to present its “Diversification of Agriculture – New Jobs for Rural Youth” program.
This activity is being implemented in the Zrenjanin inter-municipal cooperation area (encompassing three municipalities), and aims to shift local agriculture production from grain to vegetable processing in order to add high-value crops and create a diversified product portfolio, with the goal of increasing small farm revenue and sustainability. The Project will also support the creation of agriculture start-ups for vegetable production, primarily targeting rural youth and providing these young people with access to land, equipment and infrastructure. The event was attended by representatives of all three local governments (Kikinda, Novi Becej and Zrenjanin), agricultural cooperatives, local businesses, the Petroleum Industry of Serbia (NIS) and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Development of Economic Faculty in Bujanovac to Create Skilled Workforce
May, 2013 - At the request of the Bujanovac local government (LG), the Project provided tailored technical assistance allowing the LG to obtain land for a planned economic faculty. Despite the availability of EU funding in excess of 400,000 euros for the construction on this facility, it turned out that the land the faculty was to be built on did not belong to the municipality but to the Heba Company, which bottles mineral water. At the request of the local economic development office the Project prepared a detailed legal analysis and proposed an exchange of land which will allow the faculty to be built. Based on this analysis the municipality will allocate land with mineral springs to Heba, while the company will give its land to the municipality, enabling the construction of the economic faculty.
Once this arrangement is approved by the Bujanovac Municipal Assembly an exchange of plots will allow the EU to release the approved funding and construction of this facility will begin. Currently the Economic Faculty in Bujanovac is located on one floor of the local culture center which does not have the required facilities or infrastructure to support the growing number of students. A new modern faculty will allow for the training of a qualified workforce with skills needed by employers, boosting the local economy and curbing youth outmigration.
Project Recommends Changes to Labor Law to Reduce Grey Economy and Stimulate Youth Employment
April 30, 2013 - The Project recently completed a comprehensive analysis of legislation governing engagement of work practitioners by companies and public institutions. The research compares different types of contracts available to employers engaging young people on a short-term basis.
Based on this analysis, Project experts recommended abolishment of redundant taxes and charges that burden contracts with career practitioners thus boosting employers’ incentives to engage volunteers, interns and part-time workers, while paying their social and health benefits. The Project also recommended limiting the duration of these contracts, thus preventing employers’ misuse of work practice as a means of evading full time engagement.
If these changes are incorporated in the Labor Law, they will ensure legal protection of career practitioners and help in limiting the grey economy. This analysis was presented during a roundtable on proposed changes to the Labor Law, organized by USAID’s Business Enabling Project with the Ministry for Labor, Employment and Social Policy, trade unions and representatives of the employers and their associations.