"Each morning, I wake up with the joy of having a job to support my family. In the future, I want to open my own small salon."
Eighteen year old Eriona – like many of her peers in Albania – had a difficult time finding employment once she had completed her education. Eriona’s need for gainful employment was compounded by the fact that her family receives social assistance from the government. One day, Eriona noticed an advertisement for an apprenticeship at a salon on a notice board in the municipality of Tirana. Following five months working as an apprentice, Eriona has gained valuable skills necessary to become a professional hair dresser and is now employed by the hair salon that offered this apprenticeship.
The Municipalities of Tirana and Durres have teamed up with the World Bank to create the kinds of apprenticeship opportunities which now have Eriona thinking about opening her own business. The Youth Empowerment and Community Development Project in Albania, began in 2010 has helped 40 young people like Eriona gain useful skills and experience to help them secure employment in an increasingly competitive job environment. The project helps by covering the cost of supervision at participating companies as well as providing a minimum wage for the young apprentices. As in Eriona’s case, the project has been instrumental in helping employers mitigate the risk of investing in novice workers while simultaneously providing the opportunity for young trainees to gain much needed experience.
"Since I graduated from school, I have not worked or been trained. I have only stayed at home. Although I wanted to work, I had no opportunity, knowledge, or financial support to bake cakes."
Rudina is undergoing a life changing experience following a three month vocational training in baking. Together with six of her peers, Rudina was professionally trained in pastry making with assistance from the Youth Empowerment and Community Development Project. Rudina and her peers were provided training on baking a variety of pastries, as well as given comprehensive cooking lessons which included the training on serving guests, setting tables for various occasions, and selecting appropriate containers. As part of her graduation ceremony, Rudina was expected to serve a tart to a school committee – who was responsible for assessing this effort. The students were expected to carefully explain how their dishes were prepared. In Rudina’s case, the committee was highly satisfied with her tart.
"Most of all, I cannot thank the project enough - I do not know how to express my gratitude. My life is dramatically changed. Literally, I gained a means to stand on my own, economically"
Upon completion of her vocational training, Rudina was able to fulfill another dream: funds from the project grant were provided to Rudina to enable her to open her own pastry shop. The project allowed Rudina to utilize $2,500 to procure tools and equipment for her new shop. Rudina also attended training on how to start up a business – learning who to target, where to target, and how to best manage her business.
Youth unemployment is a key challenge in Albania, with more than 22% of the country’s youth between the ages of 15 and 29 unemployed. In Albania, 39% of young people aged 18-24 have, at most, a lower secondary education, and the dropout rate for upper secondary education is 19.6%, according to Albania Review of Human Resource Development, ETF in 2010.
The Youth Empowerment and Community Development Project in Albania was launched in 2010 with support from Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF). It is being implemented by the Municipalities of Tirana and Durres and has three key objectives: (1) increasing capacity in a variety of skill sets that support a transition from secondary school into the labor force; (2) increasing access to livelihood and employment opportunities through grants that support youth entrepreneurial activities; and (3) increasing youth inclusion in civic affairs through community development grants.
The project has been effective in targeting vulnerable youth by offering capacity building opportunities, grant support for young entrepreneurs, and the implementation of small-scale infrastructure projects in the two municipalities.