The European Union has designated EUR 10 million to boost youth employment in the Western Balkans.
The guarantee package, financed by the EU will benefit businesses that offer employment or training to young people in Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to this, some EUR 85 million in loans will be made available to 1200 businesses. It’s hoped that this will allow them to create 1300 courses, internships, and employment opportunities for young people.
According to the EU, across the Western Balkans, up to 99% of businesses are small or medium enterprises and provide employment to around 70% of the workforce. Despite this, unemployment rates in young people are the highest in the region at 55.4% in Kosovo and 28.3% in Albania.
Many of those who are employed have temporary contracts, are employed in the informal economy, or are working in roles that do not match their skill set.
Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, said:
“We continue to help the SMEs as they provide many jobs in the Western Balkans. Supporting businesses that employ young people is a particular priority. Investing in youth gives momentum for a stronger, more innovative and dynamic economy in the region.”
It is hoped that these additional funds and guarantees will enable banks in the region to offer favourable terms to businesses seeking financing.
Alessandro Tappi, Head of Equity Investments and Guarantees at the European Investment Fund, said:
“Strengthening SMEs and creating new employment opportunities for youth is a key that can unlock faster economic and social development in the Western Balkans. The EU`s Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility is an important contribution to economic and social sustainability and the EIF is proud of the opportunity to act on behalf of the EU and support the region on its growth trajectory.”