Through local partnerships, with the support of the EU, easier access to work

Unemployment is one of the key reasons for the increasing emigration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. population, mostly to the countries of Western Europe. With the aim of stopping the outflow of citizens, the International Labor Organization is implementing a project with funds from the European Union whose goal is to train hard-to-employ categories and stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far, many people have made a living in this way, mostly in smaller local communities.

The image of Konjic was embellished by a florist. She is not the only one, but she is special. Because of this, buying and giving flowers has become popular like never before in the city on the Neretva.

“It is true when people say that not so many flowers were bought in Konjic a year ago. It’s a huge compliment to me ,” says Amela Zera, owner of a flower shop in Konjic.

Without the financial support of the EU, this flower shop would not have opened its doors to the people of Konji. By forming local partnerships, it is easier to get to work. So far, more than a hundred young people, women and hard-to-employ categories of the population have been trained through the cooperation project between Konjic and Jablanica.

“More than 40 businesses were supported in the area of ​​two local communities worth 300,000 KM. More than 70 percent are still active today ,” says Alisa Gekić, director of the Link Entrepreneurial Center.

“In the previous three years alone, we worked with 20 local partnerships for employment throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. These partnerships managed to provide retraining, retraining and professional training for over 1,600 people who are on the records of the Employment Office and to employ more than 560 people” , says Amra Selesković, manager of the EU Support to Local Partnerships for Employment project.

Although the goal of the project is to reduce unemployment, a small number of beneficiaries decide to find a job outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They leave, but they also come back.

“A certain number of people leave the jobs they managed to get through retraining and go to work in Western European countries,”  says Selesković.

“We have more than 20 percent of those who tried during the first cycle of 2020 – they didn’t succeed, they went to Germany or some other country and last year they got the opportunity to start their own business,” adds Gekić  .

EU employment projects are aligned with the Konjic Development Strategy. That’s why local authorities set aside housing for young people and half-yearly contributions for newly employed people.

“They had a hard time deciding to start their own business. It was more attractive when you finished going outside, expecting someone to give you a job. We try to continuously support young people through various segments, and the final ones are business projects, where they would decide to stay in their homeland and their city “, emphasizes Osman Ćatić, mayor of Konjic (SDA).

Small businesses were also started in Jablanica thanks to local partnerships. Homemade products of women from this region have become recognizable throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. They started production when many closed their plants during the pandemic.

“We received an amount of 10,000 KM, plus the contribution of one employee from the Municipality. That was our idea at the beginning” , states Merima Kukić Gego, director of the company Most M Jablanica.

Jablanica is the leader in the use of funds from EU projects. This enabled them to reduce unemployment and save budget money.

“When you apply for projects, you get 5-7 KM for our invested brand. These three projects that we did with the International Labor Organization cost us approximately 80,000 KM. In the last six months, we have handed over more projects than have been implemented so far,”  says Damir Šabanović, the mayor of Jablanica (SDP).

The International Labor Organization continues its efforts to reduce unemployment with the EU Employment Project – Jobs for All, which covers a wider category of the population that, according to the records of the State Agency for Labor and Employment, exceeded 300,000 people.

“The total value of the project is EUR 5.3 million, of which EUR 3.2 million is allocated to the grant program that will be used for direct employment of hard-to-employ people. The goal we want to achieve through this project is to employ 625 people from the target groups at the end of this project ,” explains Amar Numanović, manager of the EU employment project.

All projects financed by the EU and implemented by the International Labor Organization have the same goal: reducing unemployment and the emigration of the population that leaves Bosnia and Herzegovina mainly due to lack of work.