Youth unemployment in North Macedonia has decreased in recent years, but remains very high at 35.1%. The brain drain and low enrolment in post-secondary education have led to a shortage of skilled young workers. The impact of COVID 19 is exacerbating this negative trend.
Measures to improve the quality and relevance of Vocational Education and Training (VET) is a particular priority for the government. The reform of the VET system has been underway since 2015. It is moving towards a system of student-centred learning with a focus on learning outcomes and a modularised structure. Employer involvement in curriculum development has begun, as has the requirement for work-based learning for all students. However, the reform process has been challenged by weaknesses in the economy, lack of investment in the sector and politicisation in the education and training system.
To address these challenges, the Government of North Macedonia decided to be the first non-EU member state to establish a Youth Guarantee scheme specifically for young people who are not in education, training or employment - similar to successful models in member states. Together with its partners, the Internationaler Bund (IB) supports the reform process of implementing the Youth Guarantee Scheme, funded through the EU Sector Reform Contract "EU for Youth". "It is important to support our partners in Southeastern Europe to increase youth employment in the country and reduce the gap between skills and labor market needs," urges Karola Becker, Member of the Board of the Internationaler Bund (IB). "The IB has a long tradition of partnership with North Macedonia. In the past, we have supported the decentralization of social services and also the establishment of early childhood development services," adds Karola Becker.