Speech by UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton at the signing of agreement on active labor market measures for 2018

Apr 25, 2018

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev

Minister of Labor and Social Policy Mila Carovska

Director of the Employment Service Agency Biljana Jovanovska

Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen

 

  • On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, it's a great honor to be signing this tripartite agreement today, which covers a package of active labor market measures worth more than 8.3 million dollars, or almost 416 million denars.
  • A lack of decent jobs is what we at UNDP see as the country's number-one development challenge.
  • An unemployment rate among youth of nearly 50 percent is driving the steady departure of talent and energy that is leaving the country's towns and villages sadly deprived of hope for a future.
  • At the same time, we see the country's aspiring private businesses desperate for skilled workers.
  • The measures that UNDP is now undertaking to enact are aimed at resolving this painful paradox.
  • Building on a decade of experience in this area, we will support our national partners in creating new private-sector jobs by promoting entrepreneurship and developing skills that the market needs.
  • In line with the philosophy of the Sustainable Development Goals – to “leave no one behind“ – we will be targeting this effort at the groups that find it hardest to find their fortune in the mainstream labor market: persons with disabilities; the Roma community; and women and young people.
  • Our efforts in this area over the past decade have yielded a total of nearly 10,000 new jobs.
  • Thanks to the current Government's resolve and readiness to commit new resources to fight unemployment and open up the labor market, we have set far more ambitious targets for 2018.
  • We see the Prime Minister's presence today as a powerful symbol of this resolve, and we thank him for following through on his sweeping commitment to give all citizens an equal chance at prosperity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • In all, the measures UNDP has today agreed to implement will generate 1,176 new jobs in 2018.
  • This total includes 980 new small private-sector businesses to be created by unemployed persons who will receive training, coaching and small grants through the self-employment program.
  • 50 of these firms will be set up by persons with disabilities, bringing the total number of companies of this sort created in the past three years to 220.
  • Through the wildly popular “community works program,“ we will work with app. 45-50 municipalities to employ 500 people part-time to provide care for preschool children, persons with disabilities and the elderly and deliver other vital public services to thousands of beneficiaries.
  • In the process, the participants – and as a rule more than 80 percent of those who benefit are women – will gain the skills needed to find full-time permanent employment.
  • This program has been a source of valuable innovation on the labor market.
  • Last year we basically “invented“ the new vocation of educational assistant, enabling schoolchildren with disabilities to attend mainstream schools. This year we will build on that success by recruiting and training another 100 assistants, on top of the 140 who were employed in this role last year.
  • In addition, we will work directly with employers to recruit, train and employ 100 new workers in skills that private-sector firms themselves identify as particularly deficient, such as gastronomy.
  • Finally, we will also expand the vocational training courses that we provide to prison inmates to give them a better chance to build new lives on the outside; and we will complete an equivalency program to enable adults who failed to finish their primary education to earn a diploma.
  • Throughout, we will expand the mentoring and coaching efforts that have proven vital in encouraging people unaccustomed to the labor market to succeed and thrive in regular jobs.
  • As a development organization, we are mindful of the need to build national capacity rather than to substitute for it. So, as in past years, we will work to transfer tested solutions into national hands while continuing to help design and pilot new approaches, such as integrated case management. 
  • Thanks to our combined efforts, this country’s experience with active labor market measures is seen as a model – with Azerbaijan just the latest country to borrow our “recipes” – and UNDP is globally looking to Skopje for inspiration in its work in promoting job creation elsewhere around the world.
  • At this watershed moment, we are delighted to be able to make a significant contribution in addressing the country’s biggest development challenge, and we thank our partners in the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Employment Service Agency for the excellent partnership.
  • We know there is a lot of hard work ahead, but are also confident of exceptional results.
  • Thank you for your attention, and we welcome your questions.

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