Youth Employment Fair in Mostar: Increasing youth employability with EU support

More than 350 young people from the cross-border areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro gathered at the Youth Employment Fair held on May 24th 2024 in Mostar. The goal of this event was to give young people an opportunity for education, employment and improvement of professional skills. The youth employment fair is part of a wider program of creating employment opportunities for young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, which the European Union also finances through the IPA II BiH-Montenegro cross-border cooperation program.

Recognizing the needs of young people and employers, the Employment Fair was organized with the aim of providing relevant information on youth employment opportunities and raising awareness of the problem of youth unemployment. The ceremonial opening of the fair was marked by the presentation of numerous exhibitors, companies operating in BiH and providing employment opportunities for young people. The fair was attended by Stefano Ellero, Head of Cooperation at the Office of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina, director of Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina, Msgr. Tomo Knežević and Federal Minister of Labor and Social Policy Adnan Delić.

The European Union allocates significant financial resources for incentives for the development and employment of young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Only through the BiH - Montenegro cross-border cooperation program, the EU allocated over 8.4 million euros for the period 2014-2020 for joint projects in the employment, environmental protection and tourism sectors.

"Regional cooperation is an important model in solving common issues such as support for youth employment. Using the potential of cross-border programs, we not only encourage good neighborly relations, but also open opportunities that benefit citizens across borders. Through the "Your Job" project, we increased employment opportunities for 600 young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, and 50 of them will start their own business. We are establishing an important dialogue to meet needs and resources between civil society organizations, companies and institutions regarding the legislative match framework for youth employment. This is a true indication of how many good things we can achieve by working together", said Stefano Ellero Head of Cooperation at the EU Office in BiH.

This fair not only provided concrete employment opportunities, but was also a space for education and the exchange of experiences between young people and experts from different fields, thus creating the foundations for long-term solutions and a better future for young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"This event not only offers a platform for employment, but also encourages the exchange of ideas and the building of self-confidence among young people. The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Policy of BiH strongly supports such initiatives and will continue to work on creating an environment in which young people will have the opportunity to realize their full potential on the labor market, which is also defined by the FBiH Employment Strategy (2023-2030) and the introduction of the Youth Guarantee as an innovative employment model," emphasized Minister Adnan Delić.

In addition to exhibition activities, inspirational lectures by experts and young leaders were held as part of the "JobEx" session. The lecturers shared useful tips and examples of good practices related to career advancement and starting your own business. The lecturer's statements encouraged those present to actively pursue their goals and to be brave in realizing their dreams.

Miroslav Valenta, head of the program at Caritas BiH, pointed out that the project exceeded expectations, involving more than 800 young people in various programs to improve employability. " A counseling network was established, and 20 counselors provided over 990 hours of support for 216 young people in the creation of competency passports. 23 training sessions were organized for 420 young people, and 25 trainees were included in the program in 25 companies. We worked with the young people on the development of business plans, 14 of which received support to start their own companies", emphasized Mr. Valenta.

Numerous companies exhibited at the fair such as Bingo d.o.o., Ovnak d.o.o., Inditex, Ledo d.o.o. Čitluk, Brotis d.o.o., Petrol BH Oil Company, Raiffeisen bank d.d. and many others, which further strengthened the employment prospects of young people.

"This fair was very useful for us young people. We not only had the opportunity for potential employment, but we also appreciated the opportunity to talk one-on-one with representatives of renowned companies to whom direct access is difficult. That personal experience was extremely important because we felt visible and relevant in the sea of other participants", Marko from Berane.

"Inspirational lectures and expert advice really opened my eyes to the possibilities ahead. I feel motivated to apply the advice already during the next job search, and I will certainly seek help in creating a competence passport" - Ivana from Čapljina

"As a company that actively participates in creating opportunities for young talents, we were extremely proud to be part of this fair. Seeing the enthusiasm and potential of young people in search of career opportunities was truly inspiring. Our company is always looking for new, fresh perspectives and this opportunity allowed us to meet incredible young people ready for the challenges that the business world brings. We hope that we have provided motivation and resources that will help them achieve their professional goals, and we look forward to future cooperation with these talented individuals," said Belma from INDITEX company.

The fair was held as part of the project "Your Job" financed by the European Union through the IPA II Cross-Border Cooperation Program BiH - Montenegro with around 360,000 euros in grants. It is carried out by Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina, with partners: Foundation Mozaik and the Association for the Development of Competences "SKILLS" from Sarajevo (BiH), as well as Caritas of the Archdiocese of Bar and Business Start Center Bar (CG).