In Kosovo, despite continued economic growth over the last two decades, the rate of unemployment – along with other labor market indicators - remains the weakest in the Western Balkans region, posing one of the biggest challenges for the country.
Less than one third of Kosovo’s adult population holds a job – with nearly nine out of ten women not working and around fifty percent of country’s young people unemployed. Employment opportunities are limited and the quality of existing jobs is low - increasing the risk of poverty, reducing labor productivity, and fostering discontent, especially among the many youth who enter the labor market every year.
To improve this situation, the World Bank has been providing multi-pronged support to Kosovo in the area of labor market and employment policy. A series of activities were implemented between 2017-2019 as part of the Technical Assistance on Strengthening Kosovo’s Social Protection and Labor System, funded by the Multi-Donor Rapid Social Response Trust Fund.
Enhancing the understanding of labor market issues
Improving labor market outcomes in Kosovo requires a better understanding of the barriers to opportunities for more, better, and inclusive jobs. Following the Jobs Diagnostic report published in 2017, the World Bank continued to invest in a variety of research studies to analyze different dimensions of Kosovo’s labor market and to uncover underlying constraints that limit the improvement of the current employment situation.
- Job creation: Using an innovative dataset from Kosovo’s four major private job portals, this study presented the characteristics of jobs posted in 2018 in terms of sector, type of contract, geography, and required level of experience, among others. The findings showed that the skills that are most in demand are socioemotional skills, foreign language skills, and computer skills. The importance of these skills is transversal: they cut across occupations and industries and are universally demanded in all education fields. Job platforms are used almost exclusively for filling high-skill occupations, especially in Kosovo’s capital city Pristina, whereas many low- and medium-skill jobs and jobs outside the capital are filled through informal channels. Overall, online data can be a useful tool for policy makers and other stakeholders to help align career services, training programs, and educational curricula with the skill needs of firms in real time.
- Skills needs: A Kosovo Skills Towards Employment and Productivity (STEP) study, based on household-level and firm surveys, was conducted. It provides information on skills from both the supply and demand side. The study found that a majority of recruiting firms in Kosovo find hiring new workers challenging because applicants have neither the skills nor the work experience they require. These skill gaps have negative consequences for firm growth and job creation in Kosovo and impede productive employment in dynamic firms. Conscientiousness, problem solving, and working well under pressure were found to be skills that are most needed and valued by employers. The findings from the STEP survey were further complemented by the job vacancy analysis mentioned above.
- Perceptions from university students: Over 80% of Kosovo’s youth attend university but finding a good job upon graduation remains a major challenge. In order to better understand students’ hopes and fears in their transition to work, the World Bank organized a blog and video contest among university students across the country. Main highlights emerging from analysis of over 120 submissions include: (i) approximately half respondents felt that university does not prepare them for the labor market, while the other half were satisfied with the links between university and the world of work; (ii) most respondents indicated that classes are often too theoretical; and (iii) most students felt that nepotism is widespread in hiring decisions.