Job for young people – wishful thinking
Every day young people in Macedonia are faced with walls and obstacles which make the race to job positions almost impossible mission
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Card-carrying rather than professional qualifications, poor wages rather than decent monthly income, exploitation rather than working hours, theory rather than practice …These are just some of the blocks that build the reality of young people when they come out of university amphitheatres and knock on the doors of employers.
– We want new jobs and young people to stop leaving the country – was the most common response of the citizens in almost all television polls during the first round of presidential elections to the question “What do you expect from the new president”.
Although the president has no direct competence in the economy and opening new jobs, the problem of unemployment is so high, that citizens unthinkingly enumerated the employment of young people and their stay in the country as the largest pre-election desire.
Why do young people leave?
Almost half a million (483,448) young people aged 15 to 29 live in Macedonia. They comprise 23.4% of the total population in the country. According to the research by the organization Reactor, since 2012 more than half (51%) have not participated in the labor market. This is due to the fact that most are still in the educational process, but the unemployment rate among those actively seeking job is 45.8%.
This is confirmed by the latest study “Labor market policies and poverty in Macedonia”, promoted by leftist association “Solidarity”. It shows that the lowest level of participation in the labor market is just among the young population, aged 15 to 24. According to the analysis which uses data from the State Statistical Office, the activity rate of young people on the labor market in the fourth quarter of 2013 was 35.2%.
For comparison, in the European Union 58% of the population aged 15 to 29 was active, according to Eurostat data from 2007.
In reality these dire statistics reflect the almost instinctive determination among young people to leave the country, or as Stefan Aleksic, 23-year-old graduate from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering says “I would leave at the earliest possible opportunity”.
“The opportunities that I am offered to work are either too low paid or the employer’s treatment is unethical or they want me to take a party card”, said Aleksic.
He adds that companies’ approach to young people irritates him and he finds it outrageous. Almost all his friends have worked six months trial for no money with extended hours and zero benefits. All his female friends, he says, without exception, during a job interview have faced the unpleasant question whether they are planning to found a family.
“It is not fair, on the one hand the state makes me stay and have a big family, and on the other hand it gives me no protection from the employer and almost ridiculous benefits in terms of starting a family” – he says.
The author of the study “Labor market policies and poverty in Macedonia”, Marija Bashevska, says that one of the reasons that affect their inactivity is discouragement, due to the small employment opportunities, especially for young and inexperienced workers. She adds that employers are not prepared to invest in young and inexperienced workers.
Borjana Mojsovska,who is 27 years old and graduate translator, says that although she has been contacted by several publishers for translation assignments, for three years after graduating she has not managed to find a job.
–They all have the same comment: “You were recommended by him, her, the faculty, but we cannot apply for a translation grant with you as you do not have any published translation”. And how can I have one, as I am 22 years old, just graduated? – asks Mojsovska.
There are measures, but how effective are they?
Young Riste Gjorgjievski who has decided to start his own business, says that on paper and words all Macedonian governments are committed to solving the problem of migration of young people from Macedonia, but the reality is quite different.
– I started my own business although the climate for it is far from favorable, I still hope that in this country I could have a decent life, but my patience wears thin, so I often think of leaving – he adds.
Vlatko Popovski, Director of the Employment Agency, for Inboks7 says they have a joint plan with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy to take more measures to reduce youth unemployment.
– We have a social contributions exemption for companies that will hire young people under 29 in a period of one year, so by March 13th 910 young people were employed. Then we have internship in which young people work for 3 months in a company that can then keep them working. We have the self-employment project, in which about 23% of those who decide to start their own business are young. We have another measure to subsidize employment of young people, which covers six months’ salary for youth, that is 13 thousand denars – adds Popovski.
The civil society thinks that such measures are not enough to seriously impact on reducing youth unemployment.
– With 3,500 Euros one cannot start a business, let alone develop it – says Bojan Maricic from the Macedonian Center for European Training.
He adds that the prospects for young people are such that they require exit or join a party to get the job in state administration or leave the country.
Domestic institutions do not say how many Macedonian citizens have regulated residence in foreign countries. The World Bank reports that by 2010 even 447,000 Macedonian citizens emigrated from Macedonia.
Editor: Tamara Causidis