Over 10,000 people had a chance on March 20 to meet with almost 150 exhibitors at the ‘Education and Jobs Fair: Learn – Explore – Network’ organised in Banja Luka under the auspices of the Office of the European Union Special Representative and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Businesses, institutions and international projects, relevant institutional stakeholders, NGOs, the BiH business community, employment agencies, universities, and others recruiting new talent and working on the development of the BiH business environment, labour and education systems, occupied stands and made presentations in a number of dedicated pavilions across the Borik Sports Hall. The Education and Jobs Fair in Banja Luka allowed participants to learn how to identify and develop their own talents, to explore opportunities that are already available to them and to begin establishing networks that may be of use to them in the future. Most importantly, with the help of partners from Banja Luka, the Fair presented more than 1,000 job openings and offered lectures on employment-related topics.
The Fair was opened by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Vibeke Lilloe, Chargé d’affaires of the EU Delegation to BiH, Dr Renzo Daviddi, and the Mayor of Banja Luka, Mr Slobodan Gavranovic.
Ambassador Lilloe said:
“The Banja Luka Education and Jobs fair is the second of its kind. The first was organised at the end of November in Zenica, and there we experienced an overwhelming interest with more than 8,000 people looking to improve their employment situation. We later learned that more than 850 of the participants have been employed as a direct outcome of the fair. Quite an impressive number – if you ask me!”
Dr Daviddi said:
“As you probably know, the unemployment rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina stands at 27.5 percent of the workforce—one of the highest rates in Europe. Seven out of ten of these people have been unemployed for two years or more. Two out of three young people are unemployed. This is an appalling waste of talent. But even worse, 44 percent of the working-age population have given up on finding work altogether and they are not even included in these unemployment figures. This is an appalling expression of lost hope. So this event is organised in an attempt to reach out to some of these people; to re-connect with them—with you, perhaps; and to encourage engagement and participation in the economy.”
Mayor Gavranovic said:
“We are a resolute ally to the European Union and international financial institutions in the implementation of the measures set up by the Compact for Growth and Jobs, a recently launched document listing six reform measures for economic reforms aiming at opening new jobs, enhancing labour market flow and competition for the young and unemployed, more efficient development of start-ups and obtaining permits. That is why we supported this event.”
Following the fair, an online application will be developed that will map the needs and opportunities of education and employment, implementation of active employment policies, professional orientation, training and re-training, and monitoring and updating information on job seekers and those who have been hired.
The urgent need for socioeconomic reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina was highlighted at the Forum for Prosperity and Jobs held in May of 2014 in Sarajevo. Forum participants – including representatives of academia, governmental, political, business, labour and bank sectors – have all identified six major areas for economic reforms and their plan was adopted by the international financial institutions and the European Union. Wide local consultations and further discussions with experts from countries in the region resulted in the Compact for Growth and Jobs, published in July 2014. The Compact outlines priorities for new governments and officials in BiH to consider. The international community is ready to assist in its implementation and firmly believes that these can kick start economic recovery and boost investment and employment.