Youth Employment Project (YEP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina

How Job Clubs make a difference: Group counselling services for young unemployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina
2018-09-05
Bosnia YEP - Job clubs

The Youth Employment Project (YEP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina changed the way young people are supported during the entry phase into the labour market. Overall, more than 3,000 participants found employment within six months. More than 25 Public Employment Services (PES) adopted the approach developed by YEP. Learn more about this easily adoptable intervention in this article. 

Finding a decent job, and getting actively involved in labour market in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as youngster, seems to be a “mission impossible". In BiH, this is especially hard to achieve, since the unemployment rate is 40% (and at the beginning of the project in 2008 it was close to 60%). Supported by the Swiss Development Cooperation, the Youth Employment Project (YEP) contributes to the improvement of job intermediation by introducing new procedures and services in Public Employment Services. The project started in 2008 and will be active until 2020.

New Services:   One of the new services is a Job Club (JC). An active labour market measure (ALMM) whose purpose is to provide continuous job search assistance to unemployed persons through peer group support and guidance. Group counsellors (aka Job Club leader) are working with a group of unemployed persons for three weeks, four days a week, following specified programme and activities for each day. The idea is to make job hunting a job itself. The original concept was developed in both Great Britain and the United States, but is widely accepted and implemented worldwide. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the programme is introduced by YEP in cooperation with Public Employment Services[1].

More than CVs:   The JC model developed by YEP prepares the unemployed young person to respond to employers' demands in the best and most effective way. A unemployed person who is member of the specific JC group adopts the basics of business communication, and recognises the importance of teamwork and group support in job search. During a three-week training programme, members gain knowledge and skills relevant to job search. This further influences their self-confidence and motivation along with chances for labour market reintegration.

JC differs from typical training programmes because it’s an interactive experience and includes full involvement of its members. In concrete terms, JC helps the job seekers with a combination of: skills enhancement, a setting which fosters discipline in job search, and general everyday support. It is not just training on CV writing skills, job ads searching, and job interview role-plays, but also a full group support for other unemployed persons.

In addition, a JC mobile app and a related website (www.berzarada.ba) provide info on open vacancies and other opportunities such as volunteering, workshops, seminars and (mostly free) training provisions.

YEP also has established a performance measurement system that compares single performances based on the set of indicators such as the number of unemployed people who attended the training, their level of job search activity and ultimately, the number of placements. (Current JC score list available at http://yep.ba/rang-lista/)

Most important achievements:   YEP has trained and equipped Public Employment Services (PES) to implement the measure in 29 locations throughout BiH (map of JCs available at http://yep.ba/lokacije-klubova/).

Since the start of YEP, 7,098 adolescents (4,266 women and 2,832 males) were given support; 3,090 of them (1,871 women, 1,219 men) found employment within 6 months of, or during, the JC programme. This result surpasses the vast majority of active measures being implemented in BiH.

On a more systemic level, YEP’s biggest achievement is that, although counselling was an unknown term before YEP implementation, JCs have nowadays become a recognised starting point for all those who want to find a job in the shortest possible time. Furthermore, YEP has enriched the ALMM range in BiH by developing an approach that can be implemented without additional funding.

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[1] Federal Employment Institute, Employment Institute of Republika Srpska, Cantonal Employment Services and Employment Institute of Brcko District BiH