In the latest report on its activities in Europe and Central Asia, ‘Empowering Lives, Building Resilience’, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) charts how with the help of five UN partners, it has set up centres around the country to provide young people with counselling and skills training. Within the first fourteen months of operation, these centres have given assistance to over 6,800 young people.
A lack of job opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina has arisen because the country’s economy has been contracting. This is causing social problems, especially for the nation’s youth. With high unemployment, many youngsters find it impossible to find work and some consider leaving the country. This is prompting concerns about a brain drain and for the potential dangers facing young people in going abroad. (With assistance from the International Organization for Migration, areas with high rates of migration are running campaigns in primary and high schools to raise awareness about the potential dangers of false job advertisements and the risks of exploitation.)
In the past, employment services have been very broad-based and unable to provide youngsters new to the job market with tailored help for their specific needs. The new Centres for Information, Counselling and Education (known as CISO centres) not only help youngsters searching for a job, they also advise young people on some of the basics, such as how to prepare a resume and present themselves at interview. Assistance with improving computer skills and developing job searches is also given. In addition, the centres guide some youngsters into work experience positions. Almost 1,800 young people have gained their first work experience through the CISO centres.
With 16 centres now in operation across the country, young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are provided with standardised, quality help. The geographic spread of the centres also helps to reduce inequalities in opportunities, particularly for rural youngsters with fewer resources open to them. The CISO Facebook page is an important tool in this respect. It has facilitated a scheme for sharing job ads, which allows young people to access online information or connect to CISO advisors or other jobseekers. Within its first year, the page had 11 million hits.
Following up on the success of the programme, there are plans to open an additional 14 centres. The UN is also active in other youth-based initiatives, such as the tracking of school dropouts through municipal databases, to help authorities understand the causes of young people dropping out and develop effective strategies to persuade them to return to school.