A brief reflection on the Stakeholder Conference on employment and social affairs in the Western Balkans

I was honoured by the invitation of the European Commission, its Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, to contribute, as a speaker, to the Stakeholder Conference held in Luxembourg yesterday. The conference was in connection with the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial meeting on employment and social affairs, which was organized for the first time ever.

I contributed to the discussion from the perspective of my cooperation with the European Centre of Expertise in recent years and my overall research experience in this domain.



During my speech, I put a focus on the main labour market challenges that Bosnia and Herzegovina faces, in particular to constraints that lead to slow pace of jobs creation and, thus, to cyclical unemployment, but also to skills gap and labour market imbalances, which is becoming more and more important issue, with all the more notable impact on industries. I stressed out the importance of putting more focus on education policy, but also emphasized a potential of active labour market policy in tackling this issue if active policy is properly designed, managed and conceptually perceived as a piece of the broader human capital development policy. Besides, I mentioned the need for more comprehensive and substantial approach to socio-economic reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially insisting on the better involvement of social partners and civil society in all phases of the implementation of the reform (from designing to monitoring phase) as well as on the evidence-based approach to policy making.

Although the range of topics covered and challenges identified during the event was pretty wide, it is important to notice that the issue of skills gap has dominated the discussion, being mentioned by all stakeholders, from governments’ representatives, via social partners (trade unions and employers’ associations) to representatives of the civil society and labour market experts. It clearly indicates that Western Balkan countries have to put more focus and invest more efforts in addressing this issue, devoting special attention to formulating viable and effective measures by their respective Economic Reform Programmes.

The event was inspiring and I was happy to hear different opinions, examples and proposals shaped by my colleagues from the region and the European Union. A good step forward regarding the policy dialogue.

See more HERE.

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