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FEATURE STORY

Improving Opportunities for Young People in Bosnia and Herzegovina

February 14, 2013

Active Youth Program: young entrepreneurs work to develop a business plan

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Youth unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina is over 57%
  • Through the new Active Youth Program the World Bank and its partners have provided more than €175,000 in grants to 37 organizations around the country
  • More than 1000 volunteers participated in grant projects; projects also mobilized an additional €70,000 in resources including labor and in-kind contributions

With an estimated population of 950,000 between the age of 15 and 29, young people represent about a quarter of the total population in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH). With a youth unemployment rate above 57%, BH maintains one of the highest rates of unemployment for young people in all of Europe, meaning that this group in society continues to face incredible economic and social barriers as they try to integrate into the country’s job markets.

Current economic trends in Bosnia and Herzegovina are having a particularly negative impact on the country’s youth. Many young people who complete vocational or tertiary education in BH are not able to find a job in a relevant profession, while many others turn to low quality jobs in the informal – or shadow – economy. Less than half of all employed people below the age of 29 manage to find work in a field in which they were educated – leading to a high rate of youth migration out of the country.

Recognizing the negative economic impacts this situation can have on BH, the World Bank recently teamed up with the Italian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation to support a program of small grants to youth Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This Active Youth Program worked to foster the social and economic empowerment of young people aged 15-25 in Bosnia and Herzegovina by supporting grants for innovative activities which address key challenges and opportunities for young people and strengthen mechanisms for the participation and inclusion of vulnerable youth.

“It is very difficult to find a job nowadays, especially if you are young and have no work experience,” says Vedrana Puzovic, an Active Youth Program participant who worked with a jewelry workshop for children with disabilities, adding that “participating in this project as a volunteer gave me the opportunity to work directly with children and gain some work experience. This will help me in my future work after finishing college, and, hopefully, help me find a job.”

The Active Youth Program provided €175,000 in grants to 37 youth organizations throughout the country. These organizations were chosen through a competitive selection process which focused on four core themes: (i) Youth employment; (ii) Disability; (iii) Youth Volunteerism and (iv) Juvenile Justice. The Mozaik Foundation, a leading actor in the youth field in BH, was chosen to administer this program.

Open Quotes

It is very difficult to find a job nowadays, especially if you are young and have no work experience. Participating in this project as a volunteer gave me the opportunity to work directly with children and gain some work experience. This will help me in my future work after finishing college, and, hopefully, help me find a job. Close Quotes

Vedrana Puzovic
participant, Active Youth Program

By supporting employment skills and job search assistance, providing volunteer opportunities for young people to learn and be leaders in their communities, and offering opportunities for young people to network and learn from the experiences of other youth, program partners have been able to create new development opportunities for young people throughout BH.  In addition, the grantees themselves were also able to mobilize an additional €70,000 in resources - including labor, financial support, and in-kind contributions. During the lifespan of the Active Youth Program, which ended in December 2012, participating organizations partnered with over 70 government institutions, businesses, and NGOs on different projects and mobilized nearly 1,000 volunteers in total. 

Through programs such as this, the World Bank Group remains firmly committed to supporting young people to become more involved in society in meaningful ways in Bosnia and Herzegovina and around the world.