Prishtina, Kosovo: From my very first day working as a UN Youth Volunteer as part of UNDP’s Inclusive Growth Team in Kosovo, I started to realize that all the statistics showing high levels of unemployment, particularly among youth, are hiding the true and disturbing extent of this issue. With more than 35 percent of young Kosovars neither having a job nor going to school, they grow impatient, pessimistic about their chances to have a decent life, and frustrated with not being heard.
Fortunately, among many other successful initiatives to improve the lives of the population, the UN team in Kosovo has extensively engaged in post-2015 consultations, letting the voice of the future generation speak for itself. In addition, the UNDP office in Prishtina was given a unique opportunity to be part of a foresight experiment that would allow the youth to share with us their visions of the future and to propose their own solutions to the vast levels of unemployment in the territory.
To this extent, in collaboration with the FutureScaper foresight engine, I had the chance to be a part of a dedicated team that developed an interactive survey for respondents to identify the causes and effects of factors influencing employment opportunities, to share their perceptions on how these different factors interact and lead to certain employment outcomes, and, as mentioned, to propose solutions on how to fix the major issues that they are facing.
As a person at the start of my career myself, I understand how critical it is for my generation to get the first work experience and enter the labour market, and I also realize that we have to act now and put in our own effort into solving our problems. Therefore, I have been glad to be part of this innovative approach to hearing young Kosovars out, letting their inputs guide our work.
As with any other survey, there have been challenges. Given its experimental approach, its structure is rather complex, and it required lot of effort to design it and make operational. Completing it also took a great deal of imagination and vision. Furthermore, disseminating it among the population always presented a contest, but we were ultimately helped by youth themselves, cooperating with local universities and using social media as primary means of disseminating the survey. In a few months’ time, we received a great variety of responses. Respondents focused on increasing transparency and fighting against corruption; assuring equal opportunities for all, no matter what gender, ethnicity, or disability; creating a fair and competitive environment for businesses and jobseekers alike; and providing youth with more chances to receive their indispensable first work experience (including volunteering), no matter how unfavorable the environment is.
With Kosovar civil society being incredibly active and dedicated, I know that we need to include the youth themselves, listen to them, let them lead the way, and work together even further to make sure each and every one of them has a quality starting point from which they can live a decent life.
By David Svab, UN Youth Volunteer