October 12, 2016 - Local PEP researchers in Macedonia participated in a national policy conference to present and discuss their findings on the impact of unemployment spells on labor market scarring amongst the country’s youth.
Organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the conference brought together nearly 40 representatives of the national government, trade unions, international donors and organizations, foreign embassies, and civil society, as well as a number of academics and journalists concerned by youth unemployment in Macedonia.
In this study, selected under the PAGE initiative in 2015, the researchers analyzed data from the ILO 2012 School to Work Transition Survey on 1,044 youth between the ages of 15 and 29 to establish how the duration of unemployment spells affects future employment opportunities and wages (the employment and wage scarring effects, respectively).
The team’s analysis indicates that periods of unemployment have significant employment scarring effects, with a young person who has been unemployed for more than two years being 61.2% less likely to find a job than a young person who has been only unemployed for a week. A number of socio-economic factors, such as parents’ education level and family welfare, were also found to influence the probability of a young person being unemployed. The team did not, however, find evidence of wage scarring effects linked to unemployment.
Based on these findings, the research team recommends several measures to reduce the number of unemployed youth and the duration of unemployment spells (and thus the employment scarring effects). Work preparedness training, career guidance and employment counselling should be provided to young people as soon as they register as unemployed. Programs such as internships and flexible employment schemes can help bridge the gap between formal education and finding a stable job, a key time when many you “fall” into unemployment. These programs should particularly target youth from low-income families and families where the parents have low education levels as they are found to be the most vulnerable to unemployment. Find out more about the research methods, findings and policy recommendations in PEP Policy Brief 149.
The aim of the conference was to increase awareness of the difficult position of youth in the Macedonian labor market and to coordinate efforts and resources to improve youth labor market performance, based on the findings and recommendations that the PEP team presented, with key stakeholders and policy actors. Among those in attendance were the Director of the National Employment Agency, an advisor for the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (MLSP), employment and youth employment specialists from the ILO, and representatives of the United Nations Development Programme, the EU Delegation, British Council and the embassies of Austria, Switzerland and the United States of America.
As well as the PEP researchers’ presentation, two key policy stakeholders, Mr. Vlatko Popovski, Director of the National Employment Agency, and Mr. Mladen Frckovski, Advisor to the MLSP, contributed to the event by opening the conference and by presenting the national Action Plan for Youth Employment, respectively.
The conference permitted the research team to share and explain their findings with key stakeholders. The findings were welcomed by the policymakers present as they provide important evidence that can inform future employment and education policies. In particular, findings and recommendations from the study will inform the MLSP Action Plan for Youth Employment 2016-2020. Furthermore, a “Youth Start” program, as recommended by the team, will be implemented from 2017 by the National Employment Agency. Mrs. Vali Corbanese, an ILO specialist, said: “This study provides very rich evidence for supporting young people’s transition from school to work by increasing the scope and financing of the active labor market policies (ALMP).”
The research team has been invited to work closely with policymakers to help implement the study’s recommendations. Furthermore, several embassies as well as the British Council, have requested input from the research team in preparing their work plans. Civil sector organizations, such as those supporting youth and worker rights, also stated that the team’s findings provide important evidence that can be used for advocacy.
Underlining the need for inter-organizational action, Mr. Frckovski, MLSP Advisor in charge of the Action Plan for Youth Employment, said: “We now have the evidence to strengthen cooperation efforts between government and non-governmental institutions to improve the situation for youth in the labor market.” He also stated that the MLSP will aim to increase ALMP participation amongst youth aged 15 to 29 from 30% to 40%.
The research team believes that their findings are likely to lead to further Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funding targeting youth employment from both the MLSP and European Union Delegation, following the positive comments of the representatives present.
For those that were unable to attend the conference, two national daily newspapers and three national television channels reported from the event, ensuring widespread coverage of the team’s findings and recommendations.