Youth Need Quality Local Services

Youth Need Quality Local Services
USAID Serbia's Mission Director Azza El Abd and Minister of Youth Vanja Udovičić award certificates to Youth workers
USAID Serbia

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 25, 2014

BELGRADE – The event "Youth Workers in a Youth Club:  From Idea to Implementation - Young People are OK" was organized today by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), National Association of Youth Workers (NAPOR), UNICEF and USAID. 

The event highlighted the importance of improved quality of local services for young people and the benefit of youth employment to both the economy and society. The Minister of Youth and Sport Vanja Udovičić welcomed the guests and said: "Youth clubs, especially in rural areas, can ensure that young people have a place where they can spend their free time in a healthy and safe environment.”

The Minister’s welcoming words were followed by opening statements from the State Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Government Željko Ožegović, Azza El-Abd, USAID/Serbia Mission Director, Unicef Serbia Director Michel Saint-Lot and Vanja Kalaba, NAPOR’s President of the Executive Board.

Domestic and international stakeholders agreed that local governments in Serbia need to ensure quality services for youth, enabling them to become active members of their communities and to contribute to the development of the economy and society.

After the opening statements, representatives of UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth and Sport presented a “Model for Establishing Youth Clubs and Youth Services,” as a result of experience gained in the past two years in five municipalities in Serbia.  A guidebook "In a Quest for a Sustainable Model of a Youth Club in a Local Community" was also presented.  Mr. Saint-Lot noted „„Although we believe that the youth is a resource for any community, many municipalities have very limited funds available for youth development, and opportunities for their participation and contribution are even smaller. Pooling local resources to organize a youth club provides an opportunity for children and young people to achieve and demonstrate their potential, realize their rights and needs, and in particular, to support those young people who are the most vulnerable and socially excluded. Engaging young people contributes to the strengthening of human capital that is needed in times of crisis as well as in times of growth. “

NAPOR and USAID presented best practices in improving youth employment through quality services:  A nine-month comprehensive training program was implemented and covered such topics as youth work, leadership, volunteerism and project management. Thirty-one Youth Office and youth civil society representatives from 25 municipalities completed the program.  USAID/Serbia Mission Director Azza El-Abd said: „We commend local governments that have supported their youth workers to participate in this comprehensive training, and rely on their continued support for youth development and employment initiatives. We all have the same goal: to build a better, brighter future for the youth of Serbia”.

Prior to awarding the graduated Youth Office and youth civil society representatives NAPOR certificates, the President of NAPOR’s Executive Board Vanja Kalaba stated:  “The project we implemented with USAID support was very challenging, as it aimed to tackle one of the biggest problems today – youth unemployment. We are facing a paradox: on the one hand there is a very high youth unemployment rate, while on the other hand the employers complain that they cannot find the adequate work force. The fact is that the formal education system is too rigid to answer to needs of the modern labor market.  This is where the youth work comes in – due to its flexibility it can very quickly help youth to respond better to the ever changing demands of potential employers.“