The engagement of youth in the reconciliation process in Kosovo* has proven to have substantive peace-building potential, as young women and men are the ones that can be open to challenge unquestioned beliefs and divisive narratives and have the ability to envision a more peaceful and brighter future for themselves.
The joint UN project Empowering Youth for a Peaceful, Prosperous, and Sustainable Future in Kosovo* is implemented through a synergized effort among the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UN Women and is funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).
The project aims to engage youth with shared interests and concerns belonging to underserved communities to become active changemakers and catalyze peace and trust-building energies in Kosovo.
One particular component of the project, which is being implemented by UNDP and UNV, focuses on increasing confidence between youth and public service providers. It is currently engaging UN Community Volunteers in the Employment Offices of 15 municipalities helping youth find employment and secure decent jobs.
Katarina Radoičić and Radoš Stevanović were given the opportunity to serve as UN Community Volunteers in Employment Offices, in Leposavic and Zubin Potok respectively.
Radoš is a 22-year old student majoring in Information Technology. His hope is that the experience as UN Community Volunteer will help him gradually to ascend to his full capacity, but also assist the community he is part of.
I believe that my assignment provides an opportunity for me to grow professionally, as I have been included in an environment where I can consistently learn from my colleagues. Another thing I value about my role is that I can contribute in strengthening my community. --UN Community Volunteer Radoš Stevanović
In the Employment Office of Zubin Potok, Radoš is directly involved in advertising the call for applications and in informing young people from the local community on the opportunities offered by the Municipal Employment Office and on how to apply for various Active Labour Market measures.
"Part of my assignment is to reach out to the community and make people known what the Employment Office in Zubin Potok is offering. I am trying to convey the right message about the possibilities and advantages of using the services of the office," says Radoš.
Katarina is a 24-year old student of Pedagogy in the Faculty of Philosophy in North Mitrovica. She has always wanted to further her career development. Before serving as a UN Community Volunteer, she was attending trainings and other forms of informal education to upgrade her soft skills and get her over the hurdle into a prosperous career.
Katarina is pleased to have joined a group of dedicated colleagues in the Employment Office in Leposavic. "They’re really helpful and they have been very clear when they introduced me to my duties. Besides advertising the schemes of employment for local communities, I also help around the office with administrative tasks."
The timely interventions that we and the Employment Office have undertaken have increased the knowledge of local youth about employment opportunities. However, there is a significant number of young people whoare not aware of the opportunities available to them and offered by public service providers. --UN Community Volunteer Katarina Radoičić
For Katarina and Radoš, serving as UN Community Volunteers is a step forward towards achieving their dream jobs.
"I have always wanted to work with kids. That’s why I intend to pursue a Master's degree in clinical psychology after I graduate from Pedagogy," says Katarina.
Radoš, on the other hand, dreams of becoming an electrical engineer. He says that combining information technology with electricity have endless career possibilities. According to him, "building electronic devices and systems based on electrical engineering and computer science are pervasive interventions to improving the lives of people."
Through this partnership, sixty young people will have the chance to be assigned as UN Community Volunteers, with the aim of to equipping youth with meaningful community engagement experience which contributes to increased confidence between youth and local institutions and increased trust among communities.
This article was also published on exposure: Shaping the future of youth in Kosovo*.
*References to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).