Diversification of skills in the labour market

During the stay of the Kosovo delegation of trade unions in Prague (October 2015), a meeting was held with the Institute for Labour and Social Affairs Studies. This institute conducts research for the Czech government, on issues such as poverty, or minimum living standard requirement. Also, the institute provides information for the government in cases when it enters into negotiations with unions for salary increases or for improving working conditions. The institute operates under the Ministry of Labour and employs a staff of 50.

The institute claims that currently the Czech Republic has a shortage of workers in the medical sector and various types of engineering. The same problem occurs in Germany and several other European countries, as well.

“We need more doctors, nurses and other technical professions, able to work in heavy industry”, said Sonia Veverkova, a researcher at this institute. “You must be aware that most European countries are dealing with this problem, since technical and medical professions have suffered most from brain drain: professionals have moved to place where they are paid much better”.

The Czech Republic has managed to lower the national unemployment rate to 7 per cent. The unemployment rate in Prague is negligible, since it is under 1-2 percent. The structure of the unemployed in the Czech Republic is manly composed of social sciences graduates and those who don’t want to be employed.

Veverkova explained that the structure of unemployment in the Czech Republic derives from the education trends that prevailed at the beginning of the 21st Century. “We have a surplus of people who have studied social sciences, because in the 2000s it was popular to study social sciences as opposed to natural sciences”, she clarified.

Structural unemployment problems afflict Kosovo as well, regardless of the fact that the high unemployment rate of 35 percent indicates a lack of sufficient work places.

“Koha Ditore” reports that the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Arban Abrashi, claims that the ministry is working on the education system, in order to enable young professionals to find a job in future.

He said that this year, the Ministry of Education has significantly reduced the number of students in social sciences, in order to redirect them towards natural sciences.  Abrashi said that work on “specializing” universities in order to meet the requirements of the labour market is ongoing. He confirmed that the ministries are working on establishing a career guidance for primary level, but the impact of these policies, according to him, will be seen in 5 to 10 years.

The Minister of Labour added that effort is being directed towards educating the unemployed for recently opened vacancies.  To this purpose, some sectors that can hire new employees in the mid- to long-run have been identified.

 “We have subsidized the salaries of about 500 workers in sectors such as textile industry, wood industry, metal workers or agriculture. The wage subsidy was made with the intention to employ young people for a certain period of time that will also serve as their training period in a new sector that could potentially have more demand in the future. So even if an employee is out of work after the termination of the subsidy, he would be able to seek for a job in another company”, stated Abrashi. Such initiatives will continue next year, in order to educate the unemployed in professions where a job can be found more easily.

Abrashi added that the ministry is aware of professions lacking qualified staff in Europe and the possibility for citizens to find a job abroad. He says it is up to institutions to remove barriers for workers from Kosovo to find a job in EU countries, but it remains in people’s or agencies’ hands to find jobs.

Germany offers great opportunities for seasonal work. During this year dozens of Kosovars went to work in the social care sector in Germany. 

Abrashi said it is important that the first group to take advantage of such opportunity to respect contracts and deadlines of the stay, in order to open up future opportunities for future generations of Kosovars in seasonal work.  

Additionally, through Government partner organizations some workers were sent in the United Arab Emirates, and negotiations are currently in process with Finland on agriculture workers. The first contacts were initiated with the Czech Republic for seasonal employment in the automobile industry.

Interested citizens can obtain information about study and work in Germany at the German Information Center for migration, education and career, which was established by GIZ. 

Visar Prebreza
Pristina, October 2015