The Western Balkans are booming. Despite the economic growth, however, youth unemployment remains a widespread problem. Dim future prospects induce many young Serbs to seek work abroad, which only exacerbates the situation because companies can’t find skilled workers. This is why Helvetas supports cross-border labor market development in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia) to create jobs for young people in particular. The economic as well as the political situation is inducing many people to leave the country.
Serbia is doing better than the rest of the Balkan states, to be sure, but youth unemployment and rural poverty are widespread here, too. Many are frustrated about the government’s sluggish reforms, of which joining the EU is an avowed aim, but is increasingly losing its appeal.
As in the rest of the Western Balkans, corruption is widespread in Serbia, the legal systems are ineffectual, and authoritarian/populist tendencies are increasingly resurgent. Helvetas is working to strengthen local authorities and thereby promote democracy. From 2001 to 2011 Helvetas was active in Serbia with a project to promote decentralization and build up municipal structures, and we resumed this involvement in 2014.
Since then Helvetas has reinforced the social sciences in Serbia and supported platforms for collaboration and exchange with policymakers and civil society, as well as better links to Western European academic institutions and access to EU funding. The social sciences play a vital role in the critical examination and analysis of social and political problems. They provide decision-makers with factual information on which to base political discussion and scientific arguments for special interest civil-society groups such as women in the labor market or minorities.
Visit the website of Helvetas Serbia.
If you would like to know more about our work in Serbia, click on each project for details.
Helvetas Eastern Europe Unit
Phone: +41 31 385 10 10