“EU Support to Active Youth Inclusion” for better inclusion of Youth and persons from vulnerable groups

Belgrade, December 21st, 2021

Closing event of the “EU Support to Active Youth Inclusion“ grant scheme, organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programmes (CFCU), Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Eptisa Southeast Europe (Serbia) and EPTISA Servicios de Ingenieria S.L. from Spain, was held today at EU Info center in Belgrade, and Online via Zoom platform.

This action is part of the “European Union Support to Active Youth Inclusion” project, with total value of 4.7 million EUR, financed by the European Union and co-funded by the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

Particular focus was on young people that are facing difficulties to get into the labour market, such as young people without qualifications or low qualified, unemployed youth and especially vulnerable social groups, (young people with disabilities, Roma, youth from rural areas, etc.) young people who have not been educated or have not undergone some kind of training or course, young people who are beneficiaries of social assistance or long-term unemployed. 24 projects are implemented by the republic and provincial social protection institutions, municipalities and cities, citizens’ associations, foundations and educational institutions.

Jasmina Pekmezović, acting Assistant Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, said: “I am very honoured and pleased to thank the distinguished representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, who have supported our efforts to increase the employability of young people and members of other vulnerable groups through the development of innovative and tailored services as well as active inclusion models. What is also important, and piloted through implemented projects, is assistance to vulnerable groups through partnership and coordinated action of institutions and organizations at the local level, which is the only right way to implement effective, systemic assistance. Implemented projects experiences are of great importance to us for further local and politics of social inclusion improvement in widest sense.

Special thanks go to quality project leadership for which funds were allocated from IPA 2014 EU support and Republic of Serbia”

Uroš Pribićević, acting Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports, said: “Ministry of Youth and Sports greats and welcomes realization of another important programme in which it took part. The Republic of Serbia has been working systematically for years to develop, improve and implement programmes to enhance the quality of life of young people. The highest priority of the Government and the Ministry in working with youth is to create conditions for improved employability and self-employment.

Taking into account measures which need to be implemented for improvement of conditions for youth employability, from the beginning, Ministry supports and implements activities with the goal of early school dropout reduction and for youth personal and professional competencies raising, thus enabling the transfer from educational sphere to employment. Ministry also implements activities aiming at specific youth groups, which are at risk of social exclusion.”

Martin Klaucke, Head of Operations II at the EU Delegation to Serbia, said: “We are very pleased to see that EU support has been used to mobilise several important end-user groups, including young people who are not employed, in education or training (so-called NEET youth), people with disabilities, young people leaving the social protection system, former juvenile offenders as well as other vulnerable groups.

The grant scheme confirmed once again that civil society organizations are vital to reaching vulnerable groups who are furthest from the labour market. Based on their experience and recognition in local communities, they can make additional efforts to reach specific target groups and therefore complement overburdened institutions on the ground. Through this grant scheme, many innovative practices and services for the benefit of young people have been developed and implemented, ones that should be upgraded and invested in further. It is therefore essential to continue building the capacity of all relevant local actors, including civil society, who can make a difference in the lives of many beneficiaries in selected communities.”

Klaucke underlined the need for further efforts: “Truthfully, not all supported projects were successful, and improvements should be made while Serbia continues its accession progress. We hope that recommendations and lessons learned which are the conclusions from last week’s discussions, for grant schemes implementation and innovative practices for youth inclusion, will be followed.”

Irma Lutovac, Project Team Leader, stated: “I wish to believe that we were successful in achieving of given goals, but more objective opinion will come from stakeholders. We gave our effort for quality support to grantees and institutions.

When it comes to grant project, support aimed at segments important for quality project implementation, from financial management, public procurement, reporting and visibility. Over 3.600 people have been involved in project activities, and a large number of them now has better chances in the labour market; also, 111 people have found permanent or temporary jobs. We have seen great examples of cooperation between institutions and civil society organisations, examples of well-planned and implemented support to end users, whether it is activation, motivation, mentoring, or involvement in quality training, all aimed at increasing employability.”

The “European Union Support to Active Youth Inclusion” project, total value of which is EUR 4.7 million, financed by the EU and co-funded by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, aims to ensure greater social inclusion of youth population in Serbia by increasing of employment, youth activity, work experience and entrepreneurship practice among youth population. Through the project the EU and Government of Serbia has granted 24 grants, which will be implemented in more than 35 cities and municipalities in Serbia by the end of 2021. The projects implemented by the national and provincial social welfare institutions, municipalities and cities, citizens associations, foundations and educational institutions will increase the scope and quality of services at the local level in education and employment, innovative practice, active inclusion mechanisms and models and thereby strengthen the social inclusion of youth. The impact and tangible outcomes of the project are expected at all levels concerning the overall readiness and increased capacities of relevant institutions for the innovative development and management of youth active inclusion measures, policy development in line with best EU practices, and effective use of related EU financial assistance.

The project is managed by the Ministry of Finance, Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programmes (CFCU), while the project beneficiary institutions are the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and Ministry of Youth and Sports

More about the project can be found on www.ukljucivanjemladih.rs

The European Union’s donations to Serbia exceed EUR 3.6 billion from 2000 to date. The funds have been used to support development, quality of life and reforms in: civil protection, flood relief and protection, education, connectivity, environment, health and consumer protection, culture, rule of law, local development, jobs and growth, public administration, migration, public financial management, civil society and media, social inclusion, youth and sport. EU support is implemented in cooperation with the Government of Serbia. The European Union is a larger donor of development aid to Serbia than all other international donors put together.