Bregu: Instead of creating policies FOR youth we believe in co-creating policies WITH youth
Sarajevo/Tirana/Brussels - “Youth makes 21% of Western Balkans population. If we know that youth unemployment in the Western Balkans is over 35%; that it takes around 2 years for a young person to land the job after the school; that 25% of youth are not in employment, education and training; or that 71% of our youth are thinking to leave the region and find jobs abroad – than it is clear why this very first Regional Youth Policy Lab is dedicated to youth unemployment,” said Majlinda Bregu, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) at the kick-off of the first Western Balkans Youth Policy Lab on Employment, online today.
“Instead of creating policies FOR youth we believe in co-creating policies WITH youth. We believe in bringing together youth and policy makers in order for them to co-create and co-manage important youth policies together. Education, innovation, connection, cooperation, and communication are key to you and to our societies.”
The kick-off conference gathered 40 young people and policymakers, members of the Regional Pool of Experts from the Western Balkans covering youth and labour market issues as well as representatives of youth organizations, donor community, and media. In the next two days the first Regional Western Balkans Youth Policy Lab on Youth Unemployment is expected to work jointly with region’s policy makers in developing and setting recommendations, as well as finding real solutions for youth employability and participation.
"Young generations are a major focus in all the work of the European Commission with the Western Balkans and we work hard to create an environment where youth see their future in the region. This very first WB thematic youth lab is very important moment in which we want policy makers and youth to talk together and engage more actively in policy making shaping not only their countries but the region as a whole," said Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for Western Balkans at the European Commission’s Directorate General for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations.
Stefan Ðorđevic, General Secretary of the National Youth Council of Serbia said that “if we involve young people in thinking that policy-making is their problem, we will make young people shaping society according to their needs,”
"Let's try to give young people more values and show them we really want them to stay in the region and contribute to the region the best way they can," emphasized Jovana Majstorovic, European Youth Forum Board Member.
In the past two years the RCC employed 14 young people, who now make more than 20% of this organisation. For the first time we introduced the internship program, and 7 more joined us. More than 30 joined us within our Balkathon and STEM initiatives and campaigns. Only in our Tourism project activities, more than 140 participants were young people and youth organizations.
The idea of the Western Balkans Youth Lab emerged some time ago, starting at the Sofia EU-Western Balkan Summit in 2018 and it was reiterated in the same place in 2020, with WB Leaders emphasizing the importance of creating further opportunities for youth and calling for the establishment of a Western Balkans Youth Lab. Thanks to the support from European Union, European Commission’s DG NEAR in particular, we are witnessing the kick start of the first Regional Youth Policy Lab today.
Western Balkans Youth Lab is a three-year EU funded and RCC implemented project that kicked-off in January 2020 aiming to provide opportunities for youth to participate in decision-making process. The project is covering Western Balkans Six economies in which youth constitutes 21.27% of the overall population and strives to create a longer-term structured regional dialogue between youth organisations and national administrations focused on jointly devising policies which will increase youth participation in decision-making, to improve the overall socio-economic environment for and mobility of youth in the Western Balkans economies through different types of activities.