EBRD and Serbia’s Ministry of Education join forces to bridge skills gap

By Olga Rosca
@olgarosca

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The EBRD and Serbia’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (MoESTD) are joining forces to ensure that Serbia’s graduates at vocational and higher education institutions possess the skills demanded by the labour market.

Skills mismatches – when workers have either fewer or more or simply different skills than jobs require – are costly for employers, workers and society at large. They negatively affect the competitiveness of the Serbian economy and limit productivity and innovation, while driving unemployment and the brain drain, especially among young people.

For example, popular learning paths in Serbia are concentrated in fields such as business administration, health and law, whereas officially registered vacancies are predominantly in the subsectors of manufacturing, leaving strong demand for technical and engineering skills unmet.

As part of the new cooperation, the EBRD and the Ministry of Education will engage private companies in developing educational policies and standards of qualifications to ensure that young people acquire the skills required by employers. The EBRD and the Ministry will support the activity of sector skills councils and work towards the development of dual-education programmes that combine apprenticeships at private firms with training at vocational schools.

Minister Mladen Šarčević said: “The partnership with the EBRD provides strong support to the MoESTD in establishing a relevant qualification system that rests on quality assurance and, as such, creates better links between education and the labour market. The support and joint action of the MoESTD and the EBRD is very important, especially today when it is necessary to respond rapidly to many challenges, including the stabilisation and advancement of opportunities in Serbia after the Covid-19 pandemic is over.”

Zsuzsanna Hargitai, EBRD Regional Director for the Western Balkans and Head of Serbia, added: “Our partnership aims to build solid bridges between the world of work and those who provide training, in order to match skills provision to the needs of enterprises. Engaging at the sectoral level means that the direct participation of employers and workers, together with government and training providers, will ensure the relevance of vocational training. This will be particularly important in the post-Covid-19 recovery period.”

Barbara Rambousek, EBRD Director of Gender and Economic Inclusion, commented: “Facilitating the engagement of the private sector with policy makers is vital to shape effective skills and human capital policies. It also eases school-to-work transition for young people across the region, in particular during times of crisis.”

The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Serbia. The Bank has invested more than €5.8 billion across 260 projects in the country to date, where it is supporting private-sector development and the transition towards a sustainable, green economy.

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